A lesson in grassroots politics

Mac's Musings—Claude McIntosh
A lesson in grassroots politics
Mac's Musings

The late great Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, famously noted that “All politics is local.”

Others call it “retail politics”, or Politics: 101.

What it means is that successful politicians – especially those at the upper levels (federal, provincial, state) – need to sweat, as the saying goes, the small stuff: grassroots engagement and responding to local needs.

And, nobody does it better than Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan.

Here’s an example.

On Thursday afternoon the Raisin Region Conservation Authority had a small reception at Cooper Marsh for retiring general manager Richard Pilon.

Duncan had made a commitment to put in an appearance and present Pilon with a certificate in honour of his long, dedicated service.

Earlier in the day Duncan was in Newfoundland wrapping up a whirl-wind tour of the island, pitching the Conservative axe-the-tax campaign.

He flew out of St. John’s early in the afternoon, landed in Montreal and headed straight for Cooper Marsh.

Nobody would have criticized the travel-weary Duncan if he had bailed out. But, that is not what grassroots politicians do.

As Adrian Bugelli, his chief of staff, noted, Duncan learned from one of the best grassroots federal politicians around, Guy Lauzon, who mastered what Bugelli likes to call “retail politics.”

Ever wonder why U.S. politicians have more sex scandals than Canadian politicians?

Years ago, a political science prof at Western U – or as it was called in the day University of Western Ontario – came up with a long list of reasons.

We offer this updated list: We don’t have a Donald Trump. … Conservatives would rather make money. New Democrats would rather spend money.  Liberals would rather call a conference to talk about money. … The best offer any supermarket mag has made to a Canadian female for making public an affair with one of our senior level politicians is $125…. A sex scandal involving a U.S. politician gets 20-minutes on “60 Minutes”. The same scandal in Canada would mean a 10-part series produced by the National Film Board title “Sex in Ottawa – What does it mean to Native land claims, pay equity and our relations with the Third World. … U.S. politicians don’t have the excitement of a Doug Ford speech to distract them.

Kahn-Tineta Horn, model and native activist, made national and international news, in May 1969 when two separate trials acquitted her of obstructing Cornwall police and possession of an offensive weapon (a ceremonial knife).

Horn, along with her brother Taio TeKane and 39 others protesting a heavy-handed bureaucratic decision to start charging natives duty on goods transported across the border. Protesters argued that the Jay Treaty of 1794 gave native residents free border crossing rights.

In both criminal cases, the judge ruled that Cornwall police at the international bridge crossing protest on Dec. 19 did not have sufficient reason to lay the charges.

ALSO IN MAY 1969: Fire damaged six stores at Eastcourt Mall. The fire was discovered by police officers Pat McDermid and Roger Samson who were investigating a break-in at one of the stores. The 32-store mall had opened seven months earlier. … The CBC announced that it would no longer accept tobacco ads for its television and radio stations. … Postmaster Eric Kierans told the House of Commons that by 1990 computers would reduce the need for home mail delivery. … Grocery chain owner David Loeb purchased the Ottawa Rough Riders for $750,000. …The Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CMHA) cleared the way for Cornwall Royals to join the new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Royals’ general manager predicted a Memorial Cup for the city within three years. (They won it in 1972). … Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Cornwall native Ron Ward in a minor league trade with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League. … Rick Fawthrop scored four goals but they weren’t enough as the Cornwall Wildcats fell 14-13 to Valleyfield Braves in a Quebec Senior Lacrosse League game. Doug Carpenter, Jackie McLennan and Ray Silmser had two apiece.

SPORTS STUFF: Strange world that pro sports world. One of the first things Brad Treliving did when he became Maple Leafs’ general manager last summer was to sign coach Sheldon Keefe to a two-year contract extension. He called Keefe a “top notch” coach who deserved the extension and big bump in his salary. Last week Treliving fired Keefe. The Leafs owe Keefe a few million dollars. Sounds more like Treliving should have been gassed for blowing all that money. …. One of the “big” off-season Blue Jays signings was designated hitter Dan Vogelbach who was coming off two good seasons with the Mets. At this writing, Vogelbachis batting .103 in 29 at bats. He’s being paid $2 million (US) for being a chatter box in the dugout. The Jays could have pulled somebody out of the stands for that role. … Vogelbach and catcher Alejandro Kirk are hardly physical specimens. Vogelbach is 6-foot and weighs 270 pounds. Kirk is 5-8 and tips the Toledos at 245. In training camp, coaches used a portable sun dial to measure their base-running speed.

HERE AND THERE: Three guys never considered poster boys for Healthy Living posters are still going strong (well, a little less strong). Mick Jagger turns 81 in July, Keith Richards hits 81 in December and the ‘youngster’, Ronnie Woods, will be 77 in June. They’re still on tour as the Rolling Stones.

TRIVIA: The first Boston Pizza was opened in 1964 by Greek immigrant Gus Agioritis in this city: 1) Brooklyn, 2) Miami, 3) Edmonton, 4) Lynn, Mass., 5) London, Ont.

TRIVIA ANSWER: NDP Federal Leader Davis Lewis coined the phrase Corporate welfare bums.

QUOTED: “At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.” – Mother Teresa

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