"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday 17 June 2020


Being defeated from political office is possibly the most unimaginably painful experience...until you’ve been through it a few times. Then you take nothing for granted and it only hurts for as long as you let it. But, it’s a unique experience. I’ve studied losers. They seldom repeat the exercise. Sometimes they leave town and go as far away as possible. The humiliation is too great to bear.

One Aurora incumbent, Earl Stewart went to Australia for six months, sold his house in Aurora and went to live in Barrie. It’s not the same if you’re a first-time candidate. You can’t lose something you never had. When you’ve served a term and did the best you could, then it’s tough.

I came to think of losing as an end to a chapter and a new one beginning. I quite looked forward to discovering what lay ahead. Somewhere along the way, I picked up an impression of life being like a jig-saw puzzle scattered in front of me on a card table with a pair of invisible hands hovering above my head waiting to shift the next piece into place. I stopped believing in coincidence. I started believing in me.

It wasn’t my plan but I think letters to editors and other scribbles were a large part of my success and longevity in politics. My willingness to share my views were also. At one point I wondered if I’d rather be the story teller than the story. I never planned to be a politician. I was a candidate three times before being elected. Afterwards, the Banner editor indicated letters would no longer be welcome. He felt it gave an unfair advantage over other councillors. I didn’t argue though I didn’t see how it was an advantage when anyone had access but I had no option. Things evolved. In my bid for re-election, I heard two incumbents were campaigning against me in my own neighbourhood. Both were candidates for the County Council seats of Reeve and Deputy Reeve.

I decided, in my exuberance, if they were my opposition, I would compete against them for the Reeve’s office. I won....with more votes than the two of them combined. I was Aurora’s last Reeve in the last York County Council. I ran for Office of Mayor in the next election and lost. I really wanted to be a member of the first Regional Council.

During the interval, between terms, the Battle of Arnheim was commemorated in Canada. A disastrous paratroop drop caused the loss of thousands of young men in Holland not long before war ended. German mothers asked if they could be part of the commemoration. The Canadian mothers said no.

I did not agree and said so...in writing....to the Banner editor. My brother had been killed not long before the war ended. I claimed the right to speak for all the young sons, brothers and sweethearts whose lives were so wantonly sacrificed.

I received a call from Newmarket Era editor. I had not said my brother was killed. He asked and I acknowledged. We chatted for a while. Then I asked if he would be interested in a weekly column from Aurora. The two newspapers were separately owned at the time and competition was real and ferocious. Both editors were previously colleagues active in the Toronto area before being appointed editors to the two small locals.

While still in office, I was challenged once by an officer of Queen’s York Rangers militia. His wife was active in the company of cadets. We were making our way across the town park to the Armouries. They asked why I no longer wrote letters to the editor since being elected. Said straight out; “they must have served their purpose”. It wasn’t true but my attempt to explain sounded hollow even as I made it. I later realized the exchange was not intended as friendly.

When I asked the Newmarket editor if he would be interested in a weekly column, it never occurred to me until this minute, something like it might have been the purpose of his call. He said he would be interested. We should talk.

I took the conversation back to the editor of The Banner. He was concerned. As I thought he might be. I reminded him he had cut me off from writing letters to the editor. I told him of the exchange with the QY Ranger officer. I said I needed to protect my interest. My interest was a weekly column in The Banner. The editor was in a corner.

Dick Illingworth was a popular Mayor. Buchanan was his best supporter. He knew a weekly column from moi might not be to the Mayor’s absolute advantage. He resolved his problem by convincing Richard he should write a Mayor’s weekly column. So he did. He discovered he had a facility and continued as a contributor to the Banner and then the Auroran almost until he died. The day before, from his hospital bed, he discussed getting his weekly Bricks and Bouquets list in on time for the next edition. He was in his nineties.

So that’s the story of how I came to learn to write a weekly column. It could not be about politics and I had to learn on the job because quite frankly, I had no idea.

So that became the next paragraph in the book I was living.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Miss those weekly Bricks and Bouquets. Don't know how the Metro land papers are still in business. They have a hard time getting last weeks news on their online news platform. I was so ticked when you didn't get reelected. But then after looking at what you had to work with on that council and again with those in this term, it was a blessing. Facinating little history post. You most have hundreds that you can share! :)