November passed in a blur. There were still all the usual responsibilities: Running the home, feeding the family, taking the girls to activities, and walking and training Max. I was also trying to work on the role of Violetta with my wonderful singing teacher, Luigi Wood, but the election took every spare minute. Poor Max became very neglected and very put out. It seemed that even a sacrificial-lamb candidate had to put in an inordinate amount of time—and sacrificial lamb I was—when I went to check BVA ad copy at the local newspaper office I discovered that they’d left my name off the ad! That told me how important I was. Other than managing a family visit to our friends at the George Derby Centre for their Remembrance Day service, my entire social life was centred round all-candidates meetings, radio and newspaper interviews, TV debates, and visits to sites related to issues that were hot topics. In the evenings that weren’t accounted for, Hugh and I would take Max for long walks to deliver campaign leaflets. This may not have got me elected, but it did give me material for future stories, such as “Death and the Doorknockers” where Beary (emulating Hugh) walks into a fishpond while cutting across a lawn in the dark. Max took these evening outings in his stride, though he occasionally looked at us as if he thought we’d gone slightly mad. Smart dog.
One of the things I discovered about Max during this period was the fact that he liked my voice. When I vocalized or worked on arias, he would come bounding in and lie in the middle of the room as if to say, “I’m here for the concert.” This was a refreshing change from Beanie, who had always got up with a pained expression on her face and left the room. Max was also happy to sit and listen to me practice my speeches. He must have been the most well-informed dog on municipal issues, because he gravely sat through every trial run of every talk I had to prepare.
Max was certainly an easier audience that the ones I had to deal with at campaign events. One day, I had to do an interview on Chinese radio, where every sentence I issued was immediately reissued in high-speed staccato Mandarin. My thoughts sounded very dramatic translated into Chinese, but I couldn’t help wondering if the translator was actually repeating what I had said. Another outing that took an unexpected turn was a meeting with the South Asian group that owned Bonny’s Taxis. Doreen Lawson, who was an ardent feminist, brought up the issue of prostitutes on Kingsway, clearly forgetting about the great divide over cultural attitudes. The next thing we knew, one of the men cheerfully began to explain to her how the government could legalize prostitution, then ship all the workers to an island in the bay for an isolated red light district—for which, naturally, Bonny’s could have the exclusive water-taxi licence. Doreen’s rear view was most expressive. The rest of us managed to keep straight faces while we watched her extract herself.
Unlike the all-candidates meetings, the Mayor’s debate was very civilized, since Bill Copeland was as amiably disposed towards me as Max was. Bill finished his speech by telling the public that if they couldn’t vote for him, they should vote for me, because he knew I’d do a good job. He also told me privately that he firmly believed whoever won the campaign would really be the loser. I know how he felt. I was itching for the election to be over so I could get back to my family and my arts activities.
Finally, Election Day rolled around. The day started badly, as Max got into a fight with another dog when we went for our morning walk. I took him with me to the campaign office and put him in a long down while I dutifully phoned down the BVA list of supporters. I soon realized that Max was not the only one being put in his place; I was, too. Hardly anyone on the list even knew who I was. The election was, of course, the wipe-out I’d predicted, but I struggled through the day and dealt with the interminable TV appearances and interviews. Afterwards, Hugh and I went out for a late dinner with our friends, the Coyles, where we let off steam and held an irreverent post mortem on the whole affair. The next day, I received only two calls of sympathy: one from my mother and one from Elwood Veitch’s widow, Sheila Veitch. Instantly forgotten. Such is political life.
The following Monday, I dutifully filled in my financial disclosure—all $300 of it! We decided it must be the first time in history a politician could be embarrassed by a financial disclosure because it was so small. After having lunch with Katie, I delivered my forms, then went down to city hall to buy Max’s dog licence. Max trotted beside me on his leash, giving his best Gary-Gibson-perfect-canine-walk demo. When we reached the front of the line, he repeated his stunt from the previous year. However, he was now big enough to get his paws right up on the counter. He leapt up and peered over the top at all the clerical ladies who immediately rose from their chairs and zoomed round to admire him. Such adulation, and how he lapped it up. It was obvious I was back in my proper place. Max’s Mum—so much for the mayorionette. The more they saw of me, the more they loved my dog!