Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pols Are People Too.


I very rarely agreed with the policies or the politics of Stan Hagen, who passed away tragically, and unexpectedly, earlier this week.

But, regardless, as a long-serving provincial politician Mr. Hagen pulled his weight, big time, as Paul Willcocks makes clear here:

"...(T)his isn’t St. Stan stuff. I remember being terribly frustrated with Hagen’s evasions when something had gone wrong in his ministry of children and families. In part, because I expected better.

But I also remember talking with him in the corridor outside the legislative chamber, when he said he’d told Gordon Campbell he wanted to stay as children and families minister after the 2005 election. The work was so important, he said.

That is one brutally hard job. But Hagen wanted it. He could see the children whose lives were changed, maybe saved, by the ministry’s workers. The families kept together.

And he did have a certain freedom. Hagen held 10 different portfolios during his time in provincial politics. He was 69 when he died. He could say what he thought...."

Mr. Hagen was also one heckuva of a stand-up guy, as Jody Patterson makes clear here:

"Twenty-eight years ago, on one of the worst nights of my life, Stan Hagen was there for me.

I've never forgotten his random act of kindness that April evening at the Nanaimo White Spot, and only wish I'd told him that before he died this week......


....I knew Stan and (his wife) Judy because I taught piano to two of their children. We weren't close pals by any means, but we exchanged pleasantries at the door whenever they brought their kids for piano lessons, and they were regulars at the twice-yearly piano recitals I held in my living room for my little clutch of students.

That night at the White Spot, I was on the run: From my marriage; from the Comox Valley; from the terrible question of whether I should leave my kids behind. I had driven down Island that April evening in a wild and grief-filled panic, knowing only that I needed to get out of town for a night and think....


I walked in and there was Stan, eating by himself. He asked if I wanted to sit with him. If I'd been a bolder type, I probably would have said no, because just about the last thing I wanted at that moment was to have to make polite small talk with the dad of one of my piano students. But I couldn't bring myself to be so rude, so I joined him. He was a religious man, and I was reluctant to answer the inevitable question about what brought me to Nanaimo that night. I was worried he'd judge me for leaving my marriage, let alone contemplating leaving my children, too.

But I was too young and wounded to be able to pull together a quick cover story, and pretty soon I'd told him what brought me there. The funny thing is, I don't really remember anything of the conversation that followed, except that Stan listened without one shred of judgment. I left the restaurant a couple hours later deeply grateful for his brief company, and feeling better equipped to deal with the painful decisions I faced....


After I moved to Victoria, we'd meet up maybe once a year to have lunch together, and almost never talked politics. I never took Stan's measure as a politician, and won't now. What I do know is that he was a good man, and that I'll miss him. Godspeed, Stan."

Clearly, Mr. Hagen will be missed.

By many, many British Columbians regardless their political perspective or point of view.

And even though I never met him in person, thanks to the work of folks like Mr. Willcocks and Ms. Patterson I now feel I know the real Stan Hagen a little better.

And, as such, I can better appreciate the fact that he was a public servant who tried to do just that.

Serve members of the public I mean.

Which is a very good thing, indeed.



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