Charlie Angus strolled out on stage, waving one arm in the air, with a rapper in tow. The duo proceeded with a half-rapped, half-sung tribute to Jack Layton. Mr. Angus made an attempt at swaggering. Two politicians then bounded on stage to enthuse of Paul Dewar. Then a video of the candidate doing good things: being hopeful, being good-natured, playing hockey. Then two more politicians with more enthusings. Then another video, this one from Maher Arar, who duly imparted his endorsement.
Only then did Mr. Dewar make the long walk down the long stage, waving and smiling as his supporters made the necessary show of being supportive. Why was here? He was here because of something Jack had said. About how we need to take better care of each other. This was not about left or right or whatever it is New Democrats have been debating these last few weeks. This was about those factory workers who’ve lost their jobs. And the kids in Attawapiskat who don’t have homes. And a particular woman in Brandon who doesn’t think she can afford to retire. This was about the real majority.
He had his lines for the evening newscasts. “We won’t win trust by throwing away our principles” and “We may have lost Jack, but we must not lose our way” and “I will take him on and I will take him down.” That last one was in reference to Mr. Harper. And on that count, Mr. Dewar demonstrated he could raise his voice.
But then that’s not been Mr. Dewar’s appeal. When he was a kid, he said, there was always an extra seat at the table for dinner. And now, he mused, the party must do the same, for all those who’ve not voted with them in the past.
He finished with the idea of a future “to believe in” and then he hugged his wife and two sons and then Mr. Angus was singing again as Mr. Dewar left the stage.