There I was lounging in my chair, watching our federal leaders on the day the writ was dropped, just taking it all in when something unexpected happened.
There was Conservative Leader Stephen Harper being his usual secretive, controlling self, with his set unwavering message, speaking in his normal superior tone of voice as if we're too stupid to keep up with his brilliant ideas. Meh. There was Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, being earnest, using a firmer, louder tone of voice than I was used to hearing, but not ready for the obvious question. Oh brother. There was Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe being sharp, ready to go at Harper and all of English Canada with same-old, same-old arguments. Maybe he could leaven this necessary but unwanted race. Maybe. There wasn't Green Party Leader Elizabeth May who fascinates me with her breadth of knowledge and incisive analysis of Harper's BS. And then there was Jack.
NDP Leader Jack Layton was bouncing with excitement. He was smiling. He was fielding reporters' questions deftly. He was ready for that question. And he was having fun!
I haven't seen a Canadian political leader look so hugely excited or happy or joyous about his job since, uh, since...well, it's been awhile. It suddenly made the election more than a necessary evil. I sat up. I leaned forward. I paid attention and grinned.
I dared to think: If Jack can make an election exciting, what can he turn our Parliament into?
Suddenly our political future has hope. Our place of leadership can be more than a place where Harper hides from our governing body, where he has his ministers lie to MPs -- and thus all Canadians -- where Ignatieff joins Harper in hiding physically from Question Period, where MPs say their scripted pieces and insult each other like a bunch of children who don't want to be there.
Instead, Parliament can be a place where politicians want to be, where Jack leads the rest in bringing ideas to life, ideas that will make Canada a better place to live. Ottawa will be a place where politicians don't treat each other as enemies or journalists as grenade-carrying lowlifes. Our seat of federal government will be a place where MPs regain a say in our government through electoral reform and will no longer have to bark like trained seals while the Prime Minister and his non-elected minions rename the government in Harper's name and run and devolve Canada behind closed doors.
A leader sets the tone of who and what they lead. A vindictive, secretive, controlling leader will foment anger and suspicion in us too, of seeing an us-them attitude as valid. But a leader who has fun, who enjoys debating other MPs, who isn't afraid of reporters' questions, will create hope in the populace and encourage the idea of us all working together towards the good of Canada.
Suddenly, after May 2, we could turn on the TV and see our MPs enjoying their jobs, speaking like free citizens, and our Prime Minister eager to talk to us and serve us. What a difference that would make to the mood and prosperity of Canada.
But only if we have the courage to grasp this audacity of change.