We never thought it would come to this. I mean, we knew it would be bad for you and for the Liberal Party last night, but I don’t suppose any of us thought it would be record-breakingly disappointing for you, your supporters, and the Natural Governing Party of this country. But politics being what they are, you have been sent a message, and it is now up to your party to interpret that message in the most constructive way possible.
I feel I need to say this: it’s not your fault. Please don’t blame yourself. The attack ads and the horseshit “He didn’t come back for you” message the Conservatives leveled against you was pure politicking, and an example of the worst kind of tall-poppy syndrome I have seen in years. It is sad that Canadians were so easily swayed by someone telling them you wanted an ‘iPod’ tax without taking two seconds to consider how immensely stupid that sounded, and what a lie it was.
I know your five years in Canadian politics might not have turned out the way you hoped when those Liberal ‘kingmakers’ showed up at Harvard and enticed you back north to rule your home and native land. But likely, this is a good thing: it will be hard to see it this way right now, but eventually you will see that you were always too dignified, too intelligent, and too unwilling to roll and sling in the muck to make it in politics. It’s a dirty game, and we could always tell you were hesitant to scuff your loafers. And I think we admired you for it, truth be told. But conversely, it made us weary of your ability to lead.
In a time when intelligence is significantly under-valued, you remained too professorial for the majority of Canadians to ever feel comfortable in your presence. As a friend remarked last night as we watched your Party fall apart, you were always like the distant uncle that cornered you at a family function when your wine was empty to tell you about a fascinating book on the St. Lawrence Seaway he had just completed.
You remained the Prefect of your year at Upper Canada College when people wanted to spend time with the class clown, or gain acceptance from the calculating school bully.
Somehow, I think we always knew you were better than this. Your resignation from the Liberal Party after losing your own seat and overseeing the largest defeat in Party history was stoic, and dignified, befitting your character. You put on a capable and sometimes passionate campaign, but could not find your voice nor gain any traction in this political climate. To be fair, part of that was your own doing, and your failure to connect with Canadians. Party leaders reap the spoils of power when they win, but the buck stops with them when they lose. Not all can be blamed on the NDP surge.
Your brief flirtation with Canadian politics over, you can now return to your old/new life, which I am sure you will pick up where you left off. Don’t be jealous that Bob Rae will likely be appointed your interim successor, and possibly your permanent replacement as the Liberals spend the next four years in political exile. It wouldn’t suit you to cringe with anger when you see CBC and others call up Rae as the new voice of the Liberal Party.
Perhaps losing the last Liberal leadership race was a blessing in disguise for Rae. And how fitting I end a letter to you, Michael, by talking about your frenemy, Bob. But comfort yourself with this: you have a whole life ahead of you without the petty injustices of politics: Rae will spend the next four years keeping his crumbling party together, staring at Harper’s wolfish grin from across the aisle.