Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has frankly demonstrated astonishing political courage in being willing to speak up on behalf of Gary Freeman, a black American who had lived in Canada under an assumed name for decades while hiding from US authorities on an aggravated assault charge involving a Police officer in 1969 and is now struggling to return to his life and family in Canada after having served his sentence in the US.
This wasn't a gaffe by some political rookie, or someone caught off guard by a media question, Mulcair has gone out of his way to stand up for someone who has no political constituency in Canada, a foreigner, a felon and a racial minority. It's difficult to see any cynical upside for Mulcair in doing this. This isn't the stuff that consultant and focus group driven politics tells you to do. It only comes from one possible place: A functioning conscience and actual principles.
You can see this in the way this is so easy to demagogue, not just by the usual suspects like Glenn Beck impersonator, Ezra Levant, but also even CTV gets into the act with this atrocious headline: Mulcair Pledges Support for Convicted 'Cop Shooter' Gary Freeman. Oh, that "liberal" media.
People always say they want politicians who act from the heart, who tell you what they really think and believe. Here, Canada is a golden chance to reward one for doing so. If your instinct is to pile on Mulcair because you don't like his politics or you substantively disagree that a guy who committed a crime more than 40 years ago should be reunited with his family, fine, but don't ever catch yourself complaining about "politicians" being insincere or cowards blowing with the winds of public opinion. Because you and people like you are why politics sucks and politicians behave that way. Mulcair has taken a stand for one of the most powerless and easy to condemn or abandon people imaginable for no obvious gain other than the satisfaction of doing the right thing as you see it.
Whatever one thinks of whether a violent act in 1969 should be cause for permanent denial of entry to Canada for this man, Mulcair's act here mostly makes me think of Pacino's speech at the end of Scent of a Woman. Whatever else Mulcair is, a coward he is not.