As long as we've recorded human history, we've known that politics is a nasty business, perhaps the nastiest. But also one of the most important - the pursuit of power will always be.
Plato wrote about a "philosopher king" as the ideal ruler. Such a person in practise has never existed, of course. Or if such a person actually did pursue political power, their idealism and principles would soon undermine those efforts. No doubt, history is filled with thousands of such decent people who considered politics but stepped back rather than compromise their integrity and ethics. The tragedy here is the absence of decent people relinquishes the realm of politics to the ruthless, nasty, amoral jerks who make up the vast majority of our politicians and those who work for them.
So there is nothing profoundly new about this post, except highlighting just the latest example of how the nastiness of politics has once again pushed aside a decent person. Nancy Leblanc is such a person. She may humbly disagree with being compared with a "philosopher queen," but for me, the comparison is apt as Nancy is exactly the kind of person our politics needs: someone who's in it for the right reasons, to help make people's lives better and to promote better public policy and governance.
Nancy is an accomplished Toronto lawyer who entered the political arena in 2014 as the Ontario Liberal candidate in Parkdale-High Park in west-end Toronto, then considered a thankless task taking on NDP veteran incumbent Cheri DiNovo.
Given only a handful of weeks to raise tens of thousands of dollars and her public profile, Nancy ran a great campaign and came within 600 votes of knocking off the well-entrenched incumbent. Had the party deemed to allow her to take the nomination sooner, as it did other non-incumbents in Toronto NDP ridings, Leblanc might've prevailed.
"I got involved in the political process because I sincerely want to make a difference in people's lives for the better. I am a lawyer and as such ethics and integrity are very important to me. So after coming so close to winning in 2014, I persevered and continued to work in good faith because I knew I could do a good job of representing this riding," said Leblanc in a statement this week.
Since 2014, she's continued working in the grassroots, knocking on well over 20,000 doors in her riding, engaging with and advocating for local residents, working on riding specific policy ideas for the coming 2018 election.
She also used her considerable organizational skills to raise $50,000 for the local riding association, as well as raise over $50,000 for the Ontario Liberal Party separate and apart from riding resources.
She is the ultimate grassroots candidate with the kind of skills, local base and established profile you'd think the Ontario Liberal Party would want to take on the NDP again in 2018.
But sadly that doesn't seem to be the case and that's a shame. Another nominee with no public profile who doesn't even live in the riding, but close with the party backroom, seems poised to take the nomination instead.
Leblanc announced yesterday that she won't be continuing to pursue the Liberal nomination.
"I have come to believe that the path for me to continue to make a difference for the people here in Parkdale-High Park is not with the Ontario Liberal Party in 2018. This was a very difficult personal decision to make, especially after all the hard work over the past few years, but it is one that I have firmly made after much consideration around all of the circumstances involved," said Leblanc.
In life and in most professions, massive hard work, intelligence, integrity and years of grassroots campaigning will usually produce results.
But not in politics, sadly. Certainly not in Ontario provincial politics, it seems, these days. This is a major loss to the Ontario Liberal Party and to all Ontarians, frankly.
Despite this setback, Leblanc would still make an incredible politician and community leader and I hope she finds other ways to serve the public in the future. If she does take the plunge again, I will support her 100 percent.
Because if good, decent people like her step away from politics, we all lose.