We ate BCF hamburgers for dinner and had a heated debate, each playing devil’s advocate to the other. We disembarked on foot at Tsawwassen and told our “see you soons” at the parking lot. Dave’s Volvo was near the exit, my Mercedes was at the opposite end of the lot. He left first.
Not far down the causeway Dave had stopped and was helping a couple of young hippy hitchhikers put their bags into the trunk of his car. I was stunned – what a politician would not do for a couple of votes, I sadly thought – but I was wrong, very wrong and it didn’t take long to learn that. Further down the road, Dave overtook me, horn blaring, signaling me to stop, which I did and he did, right in front of me. Quick as a wink he came to my window: “I have to go to New Westminster” he said. “These fellas are heading to Vancouver – will you please take them?” Without waiting for my answer, he commanded me to open the trunk of my car. He then rushed to help the hitchhikers move their belongs from his to my trunk; introduced us to each other - first names only – said goodby to all, jumped into his Volvo and sped away Flying Phil Gagliardi fast. (For the millennials, “Flying Phil” was a Reverend who doubled as the Hon. Minister of Highways, a highly prolific road builder he was and a notorious speeding traffic ticket collector, well known to traffic cops. In the Legislature, he and Dave were sitting across the aisle, but hardly ever they could see eye-to-eye).
With the pair of passengers in the back seat, I resumed my way to Vancouver. A few minutes later, one of them exclaimed on how “lucky they were... what with him picking us up the moment we threw out our thumps and then flagging you down to take us where we go” .
You know who he is, I said, don’t you? “No, we don’t”, was the immediate reply from the duo. I fell silent for a moment or two, can’t say how long that was. This I had to know, I told myself and I asked them: “Didn’t he tell you who he was?” “No, he did not” the one said – “He only told us to call him Dave” the other added.
I felt sad for having doubted Dave, and was elated to have my doubts dispersed. I told my passengers that he is Dave Barrett. “No, he could not be the big man of the government in Victoria” the one categorically said, as if raising doubts about my sobriety.
I assured them that he was indeed the “big man”, the Leader of the Opposition and explained the rudiments of a parliament. They were flabbergasted.
A few kilometers, sorry, “miles” as they were then, down the road, one of my fares shouted, kind of accusingly at me: “And so who are you?”
I revealed that I was a common bloke, an “ordinary Canadian” as Ed Broadbent used to say, a chap proud to know Dave. My passengers felt markedly easier for the rest of the trip.
“Dave has left us” some say but it does not sound right. I think he is with us and believe he would never leave. Looming tall over the political landscape, high above the rest of the breed who sadly number in its ranks more than a few of those who are less than what we deserve.
I could write more about Dave but that will have to wait. For now I have to dry up a couple of teardrops rolling down on my cheeks ...