This interesting article was written by
Nikolaus Maack (former owner of this website)
Still, it’s fun to watch them dance on stage. Here’s what happened to me when I got sucked into the world of candidate meetings.
The would-be-MPs discussed the issues and answered questions. It would be tough to say who won. But it’s easy to say who lost.
Mike Murphy looks like a bad TV anchorman. With his slicked back gray hair and his hesitant mannerisms, he is wooden, robotic, and much of what he said was downright incomprehensible. Some of his comments had the audience laughing at him. What’s worse – the other candidates were trying hard not to laugh too.
If you are in the Centretown riding, plan to vote Conservative, but haven’t heard Mike Murphy speak, get yourself to one of the other All Candidate’s Meetings coming up. You might find yourself forced to vote for someone else.
That’s how bizarre the man is.
Maybe Mike was having a bad night. Maybe he was just nervous. Maybe it was too hot for him – everyone at the Bronson Centre was sweating like crazy. He leaned into his microphone and delivered these utterly bizarre statements that had everyone snickering or scratching their heads.
1. The other candidates were discussing cases of extreme poverty in Ottawa, and what they want to do to improve the lives of people in such dire conditions. One of the examples Mike Murphy came up with – the Conservatives are planning to reduce the high cost of gas. The audience laughed. I’m not exaggerating or trying to be mean – they laughed at him.
The extremely poor don’t have cars. Reducing the cost of gas isn’t going to change their lives much.
The reaction threw Mike for a loop, and he tried to explain how people have been very responsive to this idea. He went to Hintonburg, he said, and the people there were all for it. The audience was having none of it. Hintonburg may have a reputation as a poor area, but it’s mostly working class. It’s not the poorest section of town, as Mike seems to think.
2. A transgender individual (a woman in a man’s body) was one of the first people to ask a question. She asked if the candidates were going to amend (I think she said, or meant to say) the Canadian Charter of Human Rights to include protection from discrimination for transgender people.
David Chernushenko and Ed Broadbent both immediately leaned forward and said, “Yes.” Richard Mahoney also said yes.
Mike Murphy said he was a lawyer, claimed not to know what particular piece of legislation the transgender individual was talking about, and said he would have to look into it before he could commit to anything. The audience booed and hissed and laughed at him. The other candidates looked at him like he was nuts.
3. The final question of the evening, a man with a Polish or Russian accent asked a loaded question about the management of social housing. He seemed to be suggesting that the management of Ottawa City Living were unfair and corrupt. It was pretty clear that he had been through a bad situation with the management of the place, and felt he’d been treated unfairly.
All the candidates spoke to this, tactfully saying that this is a City issue, but that your MP can work as an ombudsman, and take your issues up with the appropriate City officials. They also implied that City Living is doing a great job.
Then it was Mike Murphy’s turn. He said he understood where the questioner was coming from, and launched into a story about how he was once on the board of directors of an unnamed group. At the end of a meeting, he said, someone proposed they get a new car for the non-profit. Mike raised his hand and said, excuse me, we should talk about this. Is this the best way to spend funds? In the end it was too late to stop them from getting the car, but Mike wrote out the proposal in such a way that it was made difficult, and…
Everyone in the room was staring at Mike Murphy, wondering what the hell he was talking about. Eventually, even Mike Murphy seemed to be wondering what the hell he was talking about, and he abruptly cut his story short.
4. After one particularly bizarre statement from Mike Murphy, the moderator said, “Richard Mahoney, you can go next.”
“Do I have to?” Richard said, to much laughter.
5. Richard also mentioned a lot of the stuff you’ve heard elsewhere – the conservatives are against a woman’s right to choose, they’re going to spend money on aircraft carriers, they’re going to use the “not withstanding clause” to stop gay marriage, etc.
He even went so far as to quote the liberal’s TV commercial – Stephen Harper says when he’s finished with Canada, you won’t even recognize it. We think he’s right.
Mike Murphy ignored all these criticisms. He didn’t even begin to answer them. Richard Mahoney seemed surprised and a little bored – he was trying to establish the classic “choose liberal or conservative” paradigm, and Mike Murphy was failing hold up his end of the bargain.
6. David, Ed, and Richard were playfully insulting and having fun with each other. Ed Broadbent started the evening by saying he’d just been to a barbecue where David had cooked him a meat burger, and Richard had made a veggie burger.
“So if anything happens to me tonight, I’d like to have my entrails examined.”
Mike Murphy was clearly outside the camaraderie and play the other candidates had. He came across as the nerdy kid everyone else puts up with, but they all wish he’d go home.
As to the other candidates:
David Chernushenko. Wow. He was witty, intelligent, fast on his feet, and entertaining to listen to. In fact, he was so impressive, I found myself wondering if I should vote Green.
When Ed Broadbent said that Greenepeace claims the NDP has a better Green platform that the Greens, David replied that clearly the three Green party members who crossed over to the NDP were having a good effect.
Broadbent suggested David should follow them, which led David to make hand gestures implying Ed should join the Greens.
Richard Mahoney was impressive, but he seemed almost too poised. One Green party supporter told me Richard seemed arrogant. I don’t know if I’d take it that far. But he did seem way too comfortable and smug. He was nowhere near as flaky as Mike Murphy, but every now and then he’d seem too inhuman. Like quoting the liberal TV commercial – that seemed hollow and silly. It may play on the national level, but when you’re in centretown, pushing for centretown issues, that kind of talk just seems exaggerated and false.
Ed Broadbent was the standard everyone else was trying to live up to. He was passionate, sincere, and real. At one point he said, “I say what I mean and I mean what I say,” and that pretty much clinched it. He has a powerful reputation as being an honest politician in a world where such things are unheard of. Which is why he’s almost certainly going to win.
Which must be a disappointment to David. If Ed Broadbent weren’t running, my vote would be firmly Green – especially after hearing David speak. I hope he is around in centretown politics for the next election, so I do get a chance to vote for him.
The next All Candidate’s Meeting is on Saturday June 19th, at 10:00 AM, at the Vietnamese Canadian Centre at 249 Rochester St. I highly recommend going. I was startled at how entertaining last night’s events were, and suspect repeat performances can only make things better.