The Final Days: Burlington

(From now through the end of the campaign next week, I’ll be with the Liberal tour. Regular reports should appear here irregularly.)

The crowd this afternoon, in a campaign office at the end of a strip mall in the suburbs, was unusually engaged. For one, they were standing close together in a campaign office at the end of a strip mall in the suburbs. For another, they had been waiting for a party leader was 40 minutes later on account of traffic.

But here they were, admirably still standing. And murmuring. Sort of like a southern baptist congregation. (Granted, being neither southern nor baptist nor even the member of a particular congregation, I base this entirely on what I’ve learned from movies and Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns.) Mr. Dion’s dissimilarities to a preacher notwithstanding.

The candidate would pronounce some positive aspect of himself or the campaign, people would nod and murmur their approval. The candidate would attach a rhetorical question to some negative aspect of his opponent or competing campaign, people would shake their heads, murmur their disapproval. Every so often, Dion would engage in an explicit call-and-response and the murmurs would become shouts.

Anyone present, listening to Dion and the local hopeful, Paddy Torsney, was already going to vote Liberal on Tuesday. There were television cameras present, dutifully recording the proceedings, but none of this will make the evening news. Objectively, it’s impossible to assign any tangible significance to this stuff.

And yet this obviously meant something.

Dion launched into his closing note, his personal appeal to leadership, his daughter a foot to his right, his wife just behind his left shoulder. He made the usual reference to his daughter (re: her future) and his introduction to politics (re: Quebec) and his original purpose (re: national unity). He talked about a Liberal vote being a vote for now and a vote for the future—a vote for you and a vote for your children. Et cetera. Et cetera.

Janine Krieber has surely heard this several dozen times. She’s probably listened patiently as he practiced at home, pacing in the living room, practicing his pronunciation. Maybe she helped him craft it. But, for whatever reason, in a campaign office at the end of a strip mall in the suburbs, at a relatively insignificant moment, as her husband finished his plea, her eyes filled with tears.

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