1. Ed Broadbent:
Broadbent is still a legend in the NDP. Until the 2011 election, he was the leader who'd brought the NDP the closest to power. I would have been happy to get a few minutes over the phone with him. But, to my surprise, he suggested that we meet at a pub on Elgin Street. He sat down, set his bike helmet beside him (he biked over - not bad at age 75), and ordered a tea (I had non-alcoholic beer). The conversation that followed was, I think, at a higher level than almost any other interview I conducted. Most people shared Svend stories. Broadbent did, too, but he also explained how he approached party politics, caucus solidarity and the role of an MP from the perspective of a political scientist. What is the role of an MP? To represent constituents? To represent party policy...as determined by the leader and caucus, or by the grassroots? To act according to their own conscience? I only wish Edmund Burke had been there.
2. Bill Graham:
The Chretien-era Minister of Foreign Affairs was another ideal interviewee - very friendly, totally honest and entirely non-partisan. Dissent in his own caucus? He went there. Criticism of his own caucus colleagues? Sure, in some cases. Had Graham been a former backbencher, that might have been easier. But he was a key cabinet minister, and at one time the interim Liberal leader. In politics today, the leader often IS the party - which makes the behind-the-scenes look at the Liberal Party that Graham offered that much more compelling.
3. Patrick Boyer:
Boyer was a Tory MP during the Mulroney years, and a leadership candidate to replace Mulroney after his retirement. He provided some of the most thorough and thoughtful answers to my questions. Not only that, but he was marvellously descriptive and has a wonderful way with words. And, there was the surprise he dropped on me about what happened behind the scenes in a Mulroney caucus meeting...but you'll have to read the book for that!
I am enormously indebted to all of the interviewees, but these three stood out. Next time, I think I'll blog about the ones that were a little more...challenging!