Goodbye 2011 and friends
Following the recent LPC biennial (yes, it’s true, sometimes political chicks get down with partisanship), one loss is particularly palpable – that of a good friend and political mentor, Reg Alcock.
Outside of giving the best hugs IN THE WORLD, he was an astute role model for young people, politicians and Western Canadians alike.
He once told me that young people today are both too worried about success and too stressed to let it happen. Of course, he was right. He used to tell the greatest story about spending his 20s as a chicken farmer in Mission. It helped to give my young 20-year old self some perspective. David Emerson also has a similar story/lesson about spending his 20s causing fights and getting wasted in the WHL and how young people need to be less ambitious early in life, but personally, I found Reg’s story a bit more compelling.
Which reminds me, political loyalty. Reg had it. A lot of it. He knew how to run a Ministry. He also knew how to run a political orphanage. He knew the importance of trust and team and standing together. After the recent convention I’m reminded of how, if we do things right – the way Reg did things – then political parties can actually seem like families. Joe Clark also said this to me once. In terms of quality human beings and public servants who understand and care and value the role of democracy and political parties within it, you’ll have a hard time finding much better. Reg took me under his wing when I had almost nobody looking out for me. I had left a tight-knit political crew in BC and was working as the National Director of the Young Liberals with few allies in the Party office or PMO. It was scary and I was in trouble and he knew it. Despite all, even the public sector negotiations when he was President of the Treasury Board, he was there for me endlessly through some of the toughest political fights I can remember. In a town that can seem to prey on and use young women in politics, I can say with total honesty that Reg was one of the truly decent, upstanding and responsible father figures in our Party.
And for Western Canadians, he served as an example of the kind of valued role we can and should play in national politics. We have a distinct spirit and identity, and just because it doesn’t fit in neatly with Ottawa political culture doesn’t mean that we don’t belong there. In fact, it’s proof that we’re needed all the more so. His constituents were some of the luckiest in the country because Reg never forgot where he came from. He never stopped fighting to ease the regional inequality in power or voice. He was unapologetic about the need for everything west of Ontario to matter a whole lot more than it did.
And so I walked into my fifth national Liberal convention with the same excitement as I have previous ones, but with a bit of loud sadness. It’s difficult to explain the loss of a mentor. It feels a bit like my political heart is broken. But there’s no point in scanning the crowd looking for him or moping when he’s not there. The only thing that can be done is to take all of his best and put it to use.
He believed that our Party could be kind, our Government should be fair, and that young people deserve more respect than they have strength.
He was wise and is missed.