This is not a pose. Kids have a highly accurate bullshit detector. This little girl came over, all by herself and sat right next to him and put her hand on his knee. For most of the meeting she looked into his eyes. When he left, we all knew that we had been in the presence of someone quite special. Not simply the hero of our youth but maybe the hope of our time.
I had met him at 6.15 am that day in the waiting area at Pearson. We were on the same plane to PEI. He was exhausted and had been on planes all week. He slept the whole way cramped in the tiny seats of the RJ. he must be 6' 4" and built to match. He hardly fit at all. We must have been the last place that he wanted to go to. I felt so sorry that he had to make this trip but then we needed his help so much.
So, an hour after landing, here he found himself in a room full of little ones and their mothers. The tired man I had met at the airport was gone. He radiated energy and welcome. His warmth and self deprecation took away all fear. So of course the mothers, the nurses, the teachers and the kids opened up and gave him their hearts. They told him in a away that i never could how important this was to their lives. They told him with words I could never use. They told him with a light in their eyes that I could never share.
Later this weekend at a dinner with 500 locals, he told us that he had prepared his whole life to be ready at this time to make a difference in the lives of children. He told the room of his own fears and uncertainties as a novice politician who, in spite of his briefings and all the material backing him up , had to face the fire of question period on his own and with no experience to back him up. He then likened this to being a new mother. Typical of him. This is not some blusterer. But a very humble man who can feel what it is like not to be sure.
He is quiet and soft spoken. He listens and he speaks with deliberation. He says what he means and he does not take himself too seriously. He is quite unlike any politician I have ever met. Some call him naif. I call him, refreshing. I am tired of politics as a blood sport. There is too much of importance to get done.
I get the sense that he has made a difference already and I get the feeling that, as a result of his talks with Mr Gillan, we may get the support that we need to continue Best Start