Spicer, Dicerni, Segal and life
I don't think your last observation was harsh at all! I have often wondered why people, especially supposedly smart people, would put up with being wallpaper bobbleheads standing as a backdrop to someone else. Is the person speaking so unsure of themselves that they need the moral support of all those people? Or are the bobbleheads without pride or shame (if they are doing it to curry favour). It lowers my opinion of both the speaker and the wallpaper. It is, unfortunately, all the rage...
This was exactly what I was hoping to read from Paul - not obituaries per se, but a capture of the times that are passing, and the impact that current leaders could have, if they were only minded by these higher callings (or...values? missions? devotions?). Thank you Paul!
Paul, reading the above brought me to think of how my long time Liberal MP and Conservatives Federal Cabinet Minister would fair in todays ultra-filtered comms era.
I just can’t see George Baker towing the Liberal line verbatim or anyone putting any filter on John Crosbie.
I wish we could see these type of stubborn and colourful characters again in politics.
I'm glad you made that comment about 'nodding ministers' at the end. I told my daughter, as we watched the news conference live (what father does that to a 14 year old?!?), "here is a perfect example why it is difficult to get quality people into politics". Each person in that shot is accomplished in their own way, and have way better things to do than be bobble head props for a photo op.
As you say, harsh. Perhaps a bit cruel. Segal was appointed to the Senate by a Liberal Prime Minister. Spicer was appointed by a Conservative Prime Minister. Neither had to worry about the partisan loyalties of their appointees - could assume they were appointing people who would do their best for Canada. Alas, those days are gone, to be replaced by a new order in which partisan loyalties seem to be paramount, and a Prime Minister needs to be careful that his appointees don't use their position to undermine him. No wonder they gather behind their leader and nod. They are probably huddling together for protection. All of the people you mention were public intellectuals, who could assume they would not receive death threats for speaking their mind. These people (and yes, they were all white men) lived in a free society - Adlai Stevenson described a free society as one in which it is safe to be unpopular. Do we still live in such a society?
What a marvelous column. I was fortunate to be on a first name basis with both Hugh and Keith as our paths crossed in different capacities from time to time. These were people of character, of depth and of real substance and devoted to the country. When compared to the leadership on offer today, one can only weep.
When I heard the news about Keith Spicer, I went back to Ian Smillie's wonderful history of CUSO, an organization which Spicer co-founded. When he had the bright idea to create a volunteer organization for young people to do development work, one of the first people he approached was the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister. John Diefenbaker. Spicer walked right into his office, and asked for his help. And it was freely given. The PM connected him up with key Ambassadors, and MPs, and eventually vouched for him with a range of organizations to secure the necessary funding. CUSO is 61 years old now, and still going strong. Not quite the same organization, as Spicer envisionned, because the needs have changed, but still doing great work. That first generation of young idealists went on to create any number of important institutions and movements here in Canada, as well as around the world. I think we should take a moment to salute that generation. Thank you Paul.
I am with you, yours is not the job of paying tribute to the many who are now departed, as I recall that used to be why many people bought the paper?!? But your observation about their contribution which was always about the public interest is well worth noting. Hugh would smile and say why thanks Paul!
In rereading this I’m reminded you are the best political reporter reviewer in Canada.
Everything you post is novel,your scope huge.
We’re lucky to be part of your thoughts.
Not just romantic or nostalgic but needed reminder of what we continue to lose. Harder question is whether or not it is possible to recreate some of margin for authenticity in today's environment.
Many years ago my wife and I were vacationing in the Barbados. One evening we went out to dinner at a casual restaurant and while waiting for a table I recognized Hugh Segal just ahead of me in line. I introduced ourselves and we struck up small talk. When they called for him to take his table for one he said to the host can you make it for three?
I was astonished at his gesture. It was one of the most interesting dinner conversations my wife and I ever had with a true gentleman.. RIP High Segal.
Thank you, Paul. When I read the word "autumn" at the end, it hit hard. That I remember the Spicer Commission says that a. I am a political junkie, and b. the autumn of my life is near at hand.
Paul, eloquently captures a thought I had not quite figured out how to express upon hearing of Hugh Segal's and Richard Dicerni's passing. The era of people who thought for themselves and had a greater calling other than partisanship and self promotion is passing. Certainly, as was correctly pointed out, they born into privilege but nevertheless I do believe they had the greater public good at heart in much of what they did.
Great piece Paul. The Americanization of the Prime Minister’s Office is an extremely troubling trend and I fear we are at the point of no return.
Thank you, Paul, for a fine tribute to these outstanding Canadians. I was a Classmate of Keith Spicer at U of T. He was lively, brilliant and irreverent even then. My winter seems a little closer.
Sylvia F Middlebro
Such an excellent read. Why am I tearing up? Not sure, maybe because I'm looking at the then and the now and the now is sad with all kinds of water bottle thingees.