Remembering Roger

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Did you know that there are some similarities between politicians and comedians?  Working on your professional image is a 24/7 job, your public life may become exposed, you need to stick to your talking points on stage if possible, prepare & rehearse and probably the most important similarity of them all.  In order to win over the audience, they need to connect with you on a human level and see you as your authentic self.

Roger Parent, the MLA for Saskatoon-Meewasin was that authentic guy.

For those of you who may not know the back story, I entered provincial politics in the mid-2000s.  That is when I first met Roger, as there was a party policy meeting at a downtown hotel.  He was the president of the riding, and I was excited yet intimidated to be in the room with Roger and the heavy hitters of the party, trying to get my voice heard and be a part of change in the province at that time.

In getting to know Roger before the 2007 election, I found out that he got involved in politics for the same reason I did.  Roger, like myself had personal experiences with the government of the day that left both of us angry, frustrated and more importantly, it went against our ideas of how we should be treated by elected officials and those working for the government.  Now, at that point a person has two choices.  They can either trust that somebody can advocate on their behalf, or they can get in there, roll up their sleeves and fix attempt to fix the system.  The latter is what Roger did.

I was elected as the vice president of the riding, so I helped Roger oversee the activities of the constituency.  During this time I got to know Roger and his family.

The thing that struck me most about his family was that for the two years leading up to the election (to the best of my knowledge) he wasn’t collecting any income.  If I am wrong on this point, I stand corrected.  But for those two years before election day in 2007, every day was spent door knocking every single house in the riding, door knocking for other ridings or helping the party.  He had the full and unwavering support of his family, every day.

The first election Roger ran in 2003, he lost.  He ran in a riding other than Meewasin and he knew it was an impossible task to unseat the incumbent, but that didn’t stop him from door knocking every single house in the riding.

The second election he ran in was his first for the Meewasin riding.  He lost by around 300 votes.

For those of you who may not be aware, an election campaign is draining physically and mentally.  It’s a gruelling grind full of people behind the scenes who work in the trenches doing things like waving to traffic with the candidate (I can’t remember what the term is for that), door knocking, mail drops or calling voters.

I went door knocking with Roger in the 2007 election campaign.  What struck me about him was how personally he took every story he heard, as if it resonated with him.  If a constituent told him a story about how they were treated by the government of the day, he got mad.  Like super pissed.  Like somebody hiding his glasses pissed.  Roger stood up for the little guy, for those who felt they had no voice and I believe he took pride in being that voice for the people.

I was exhausted after the campaign, and about a year after that I was voted out as president of the riding.

I knew Sask Party members who ran more than once in the same riding and lost each time.  They eventually didn’t run anymore, or they helped the party in other capacities while some new blood arrived on the scene.  But after losing two elections, the party never asked Roger to not run again and it seemed like others who lined up for the nomination weren’t quite that qualified.  They didn’t have the connection with the electorate that Roger had.  The people knew it.  They sensed his authenticity.

During an election campaign there are your good days and bad.  But Roger always kept a positive outlook on things, focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel.  Besides, once the writ is dropped you only have 30 days to GOTV (get out the vote), so really you don’t have time to stew over the bad, especially when you run the risk of having a bad attitude from the candidate rub off onto the volunteers.

His wife and daughter always were positive and completely supportive of Roger, and he opened up his home to host the volunteers to relax and enjoy each other as friends, not as party members.

I do not have that type of support, let alone any at all from my family about my comedy career.  I never will, and I have accepted that.  Nor do I have that level of support from anybody that close to me.

Roger’s passing was unexpected and quick.  It made me think this week of the way he was with others, how he kept soldering forward towards the greater cause, that light at the end of the tunnel, despite the obstacles put up in his path.

Politics is like comedy in the sense that among the principles (politicians and comedians), jealousy, ignorance and fear can run amok.  Fear mongering is especially useful to those who feel threatened or jealous.  So instead of educating themselves on the facts, on both sides of the story, instead the go straight for the jugular.  They blow things out of proportion with either no facts at all or only half the story.

It is my wish that comedians would deal with each other in the same supportive, collaborative and respectful way that Roger treated anyone who was lucky enough to meet him.  Sadly, I don’t think this will ever come to pass.

Sometimes once a person departs us from the Earth, it is only then when we realize the impact such a person had on our lives.  Roger was always in my thoughts long after my departure from the party.  If the day comes when I have kids of my own, I will make sure to be an example for them, the way that Roger was an example for others.

Be kind to everyone.  It’s okay to respectfully disagree with people, just get both sides of the story first so you can get an informed opinion.  Don’t let losses discourage you from your goal, no matter how many you face.  Be supportive of your family with whatever they wish to pursue in life, because believe it or not your family’s words and actions, or lack thereof will carry exceedingly far more weight than those of your friends combined.  

Roger, I was proud to call you a friend and my time spent working with you in the riding was a time in my life that I will never forget.  The lessons you taught me have served me well throughout this comedy journey I am presently on.  May those lessons carry over to my personal life.

If I can have a fraction of the impact on people that you did, then the world is a better place for it.

Rest in peace my friend, you are no longer in pain.  For God has far greater plans for you than we knew of while you were with us.

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Vern
    Dec 2, 2016

    What a lovely post! I’m sure Roger would be proud to read your words.
    You are so right. We should love each other inspire of the brokenness! We all just need to be loved and respected….it’s not hard to just be kind to each other….really it’s not!
    Hurting another human being does not fix OUR hurt, it does not magically close the wounds….it only adds to it!
    What you put out is what you get back….just not always in the package we expect, and not always in the time we think it should take.
    It sounds like Roger was so very loved and respected for how he lived his life, even when others didn’t necessarily believe in his politics. And that is the example of what living a positive and Authentic life is about. Knowing that what you have within yourself is enough to keep you moving forward in a positive light.
    Losing someone often reminds us that we have so little time on the planet and what we chose to do with our time here matters! And that often we greatly impact the lives of others….even when we didn’t realize it!
    Be blessed Trevor! Your path is and has always been littered with challenges, how you navigate the obstacles will determine the future my friend!…ps you have an incredible co-pilot, listen to him!

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