Sunday, April 8, 2007

Stephen Lewis on caucuses and cactuses

Sometimes it's extraordinary to recall that Stephen Lewis had a life (not in a pejorative sense) before he was the UN's special envoy on HIV-AIDS.

For the blog-generation, Lewis is revered for his harrowing and at times seemingly lonesome campaign to keep the tragedy of HIV-AIDS in Africa in front of Western policy makers. The man and the issue have become so intertwined that one hardly remembers his 15 years as the MPP for Scarborough West and his eight years as the Leader of the Ontario NDP, including as leader of the official opposition.

Then, two media bits this weekend pleasantly put Lewis back in a partisan context.

First, in a discussion on Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House about political comebacks, panelists Don Martin, a columnist with the National Post and Montreal Gazette columnist Josee Legault mentioned Lewis as someone they would want to see "pull a Broadbent."

Second, there was this very funny story on Lewis' recent visit to Sault Ste. Marie, in which he took a moment, in his characteristic style of high oratory peppered with the off-colour, to reflect on his time as Ontario NDP leader.

"I had a bunch of New Democrats who were so feckless, so undisciplined, so
irresponsible, so unfocused, so rhetorically extreme, so impossible to manage
that it was chaotic from morning till night. I spent most of my time explaining
to them the difference between a caucus and a cactus," said Lewis. "With a
cactus, the pricks are on the outside."

His reaction to former MPP Bud Wildman gets even better.

It’s reminiscent of his remarks at the NDP’s convention last fall. Confronted with a delegate who was pleased to see he “was still with us,” Lewis retorted: “Still with us? Why, I’m David’s son, Avi’s father, Naomi Klein’s father-in-law. I’m a social democrat to my viscera. Still with us? I’m not Bob Rae! My ideology is not infinitely flexible.”

Draft Lewis: the cactus candidate.


Anonymous said...

Way to go! does someone own yet?

janfromthebruce said...

hopefully, Steven does. Now that would be a shot across the bow, in so many more ways than 'one.'