James Lunney's announcement that he wouldn't be running in the 2015 federal election was a graceful bowing out by the Nanaimo-Alberni MP.
It will be 15 years of service for Lunney when he completes his run. That's almost an eternity in federal politics.
Lunney has served the region well, and shared some of what he feels have been his biggest successes and contributions during his announcement. He was elected for five consecutive terms, served on a number of parliamentary subcommittees, pushed several important health initiatives, and helped bring federal money back to his riding. Public service is no small undertaking, and if anyone decides to give that portion of
their lives to public service, they should be commended. To last that long, they have had to do a lot of things right.
Lunney's announcement was attended by a number of local and Vancouver Island media, and the scrums themselves are interesting theatre.
Lunney's announcement was about his decision not to seek reelection. It was the story. Yet the majority of the questions had very thin attachments with what was at hand. Lunney fielded questions about everything from the ongoing Senate scandal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's alleged penchant for control of the party. The retiring MP managed to keep the conversation where it needed to be that day.
The media's disdain for Harper is a study in itself. The so-called fifth estate holds itself in such high regard that, woe be to anyone who doesn't acquiesce to their interview and sound byte requests, when and where they want them. The repetition about Harper's 'control', 'iron fist' and other adjectives by wags may have become so ingrained in Canadian psyche that some may now believe that Harper's middle name must be Control.
We have short memories. Have we already forgotten 'The Little Guy From Shawinigan,' Jean Chretien? Perhaps no one has wielded such autocratic control over his party than Chretien did in his 10 years as prime minister, although he always seemed to position himself as the underdog, and the media played along.
Chretien's last big move was to pull the house down around those who dared oppose him, namely Paul Martin, and the party has been unable to heal the deep rift since.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's honeymoon with the media continues, and he generally receives a free pass, even when he flouts left-wing ideas like the legalization of marijuana. He has said he won't introduce his economic policies in the foreseeable future.
It will be interesting to see what this week's sitting of the House of Commons brings in terms of policy and substance, as opposed to style.
Polls show a three-way race between the Conservatives, Liberals and the NDP. Is NDP leader Thomas Mulcair really a serious threat to become prime minister, even though he has none of the charm that his predecessor, the deceased Jack Layton. Is Trudeau's inexperience an issue? The Conservatives are positioning themselves as the champions of the middle class, with pipelines in the middle.
Will the Senate scandal be enough to push the Conservatives from power? Or does it present an opportunity for Harper - who prior to election pushed hard against the Senate - to introduce permanent change? It will be an fascinating session, and it will be interesting to see how the media portrays it.
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