That's my dad for ya..

This one time, my Dad went to church in overalls. 

They were pretty dusty and he smelled of cattle feed and manure the entire time.  Sure, it was a pretty small congregation and we all knew each other rather well.  Granted he snuck in late and sat at the very back of the room.  But he was there and everyone knew it.  Everyone.  Whether they saw him or not. 

So what could possibly cause an otherwise respectable church-going man to show up to worship in overalls instead of his Sunday Best? 

My dad made a promise to a good friend - a farmer - that he would tend to his herd while the farmer was away.  When you get a promise from my father, you bank on it.  Always, every time. 

As it turns out, that Sunday morning was one of those particular Sunday mornings where everything happened to turn out just wrong.  The tractor had a hard time starting, the silage clogged up, the cattle got through the wrong gate; you know the kind of day even if you don’t understand every detail that happened that morning.  The chores he expected to take an hour ended up taking three.  As he drove back into town he had to make a decision, go home and clean up and miss church that week or.. 

Well, I guess you already know the decision he made.  He said he made a promise to God to show up, so it was more important for him to show up dressed inappropriately than not show up at all.  He figured God would forgive his outfit.  It was important to Dad that he keep all his promises to the very best of his ability. 

It’s been a bad week already, and we’ve only made it to Tuesday.  My highlight of the day was going to the Albert Park Centennial Garden meeting and to plan and dream about our community garden that will come together this year.  I’m genuinely excited about it and really looking forward to growing something amazing right around the corner. 

At the end of the meeting I had to make a decision.  I’ve got more than enough I have to do, some of it enjoyable, far and away most of it not.  I watched the first hour and a bit of the leader’s debate before I went to the community garden meeting, I could watch the rest of that, or I could go down to the Calgary East all candidates forum instead. 

But I’d only get there for the very tail end of it and there are so many other things I could (and should) be doing instead.

My father’s values have been instilled in me – if I truly care about politics (about group decision making!) I had the responsibility to attend the forum.  So I went, late but hopefully appropriately dressed and not smelling too horribly bad.

I seem to have a knack at arriving at forums immediately before they stop for a break.  Oh well.  Even before I thought of my dad sitting on the back row in dirty overalls, I fired off a sarcastic tweet:  “Just got to the Calgary East all candidates forum - because I think it’s better to be late than not show up.  Right Mr. Obhrai?“  It does bother me that I could make the effort to show up while he hadn’t.  No matter what, keep all your promises to the very best of your ability.  Granted this is more of an obligation, but that’s part of the job description.

It seemed to be a pretty slanted crowd to me and I’m not sure I was feeling all that comfortable with all of that leaning.  I have a pretty good idea which direction I favour, but I definitely thought it was important to show up and listen.

I know of Al Brown, although I certainly don’t know him on a personal level.  He struck me as a sharp guy who knows what he stands for and will take a disciplined stance on principle.  Not mindless, but unwaveringly firm.  Clearly I value that.

I didn’t know of Scott Milton (twitter) before tonight.  He struck me as a refreshingly pragmatic Green candidate.  Full disclosure: I have voted Green in the past two federal elections.  I like that they get funding out of the deal and I really and truly believe the Green Party and Bloc Quebecois demonstrate how badly we need electoral reform from our first past the post system.  I’m thinking I’ll do the same again, it helps that I got a positive impression of Mr. Milton tonight.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several people talk to me about Josipa Petrunic as an “up and comer” and “a real firebrand.“  Definitely not my words, but I was curious to see what opinion I’d form of her.  The most I’d heard from her so far was complaints about sign vandalism and that seems a little trite when you’re in Calgary and are putting up red signs with Liberal on them. 

Now, let’s get a thing or two straight.  I’ve been around this here rodeo more than once or twice and I’ve blown off a whole bunch of lesser and greater political candidates along the way.  I’ve got a high gloss coat of cynicism and you’ve got to have something special to get through it.

She got through it.  Maybe not enough for me to tamp down all the visceral disagreement I have with her.  I’m a very big opponent of several planks in the Liberal platform, so much that I would not accept voting Liberal.  But I walked out thinking, “I could see myself voting for her as a candidate.  One of those people who I could disagree with openly but respectfully argue against.”

She’s young, incredibly insightful and clearly a brilliant thinker.

Better start showing up in those dirty overalls, Mr. Obhrai, because I’ve seen this storyline written before.  Wake up, I ain’t telling you twice.