It's never less than eyebrow-raising for a politician to assure us that he or she is non-ideological. Every person hangs their values on a particular worldview, and to imply that a given path is the natural one, uncluttered by "ideology," is disingenuous at best.
That said, it is arguably possible for a person or group to be more or less ideological across a range of issues, addressing each on its own terms rather than through one overall lens.
And this, new MP Adam Vaughan told me, is why he's a Liberal - despite the fact that NDP friends and enemies alike believe his values are actually closer to those of their party.
After nearly eight years on Council as a fiercely independent lefty, many were surprised he'd throw in his glasses with the party of the centre. But rather than citing his own political heritage or preference for working within the system, Vaughan credits his new affiliation to the party's big-tent approach. Being able to accept support from key John Tory staffers is a feature, not a bug.
The following interview with Vaughan was conducted shortly after midnight at his by-election victory bash. It's been lightly edited and somewhat condensed.
One of the common themes at Joe Cressy's election-night party was affection towards you and a belief that you should have run for the NDP instead. Why did you feel that the Liberal Party was a more natural fit for you?
It's a party of ideas, not ideology.
Could you elaborate on that?
It's a party that looks at what will it take to solve a problem, rather than having, you know, sort of quick answers to situations they've encountered before. Sometimes old problems need new ideas if they're gonna be solved. And the Liberal Party - its diversity, its ability to open the door to new ideas, its ability to put a chair next to a table and invite someone like me in - is what makes it the party that is attractive to folks who are thinking about things like how to fix cities.
Obviously, you're more toward the left flank of the party. You've spoken to me before about how you sort of hope to bring the party towards you and your ideas to the party-
You can't do anything in this world if you can't work across perceived political boundaries, whether they're geographic, ideological, or generational, or... pick something which divides people. You can't find a way to bridge those divisions, you're not gonna get ahead. You're not gonna solve problems that need to be solved. The Liberal Party is the party that always finds a way to open the door a little wider. It's that kind of a party. People who know me shouldn't have been surprised.
Gord Perks, for example, says he feels your values are generally more consistent with where the NDP already is than where you would like the Liberals to be. What do you think about that?
I guess that's changed.
What do you mean?
The Liberal Party is the party that you're gonna wanna vote for. You watch us.
I saw a tweet from the Star's Queen's Park bureau chief, Robert Benzie, saying that you had people from John Tory's campaign pulling the vote for you today because a defeated Cressy would in theory weaken Olivia.
I had people from the left, the right, the centre, from the far left - you know, the only people who weren't working on my campaign were the Ford team.
Was there an organized group from the Tory campaign?
Nope. No, we had people from every mayoralty campaign, and we had people from every political party.
Trinity-Spadina does not belong to a party, it belongs to the people of Trinity-Spadina. And when you build a campaign with them, and you build a campaign for them, they respond by electing you. It's that simple. It's why I beat Olivia Chow's first assistant, it's why I won so easily in the second election, it's why I won this time. It's not about building political parties. It's about building programs that solve problems in the areas you represent. And one of the great things about the Liberal Party is that they understand that.
All I can say is, it's a party that always finds a way to make sure that everybody has a voice in the conversation. Look at the diversity of this place. It looks a lot more like Toronto than a lot of other parties.
How are you gonna get back and forth between here and Ottawa, given that you won't use Porter?