thompson-bio-regularFor some who knew me as a Toronto Star reporter or more recently as a journalism professor at Carleton, this move may come as a bit of a surprise. But politics has been a passion for a long, long time.

I remember as a ten-year-old in 1973 drawing a picture on a paper plate of Richard Nixon, with his now infamous quote "I am not a crook" written in magic marker around the rim. As a 10th grade student at Walkerton District Secondary School, I made my first trip to Ottawa, to take part in the Forum for Young Canadians program that allowed students to spend a week in the capital, visiting Parliament Hill and meeting with politicians. I can still remember the excitement of prowling the halls of the Centre Block, looking for the names of famous politicians on the office doors. Along with a friend I barged in to the office of Flora MacDonald – always a favourite of my parents – and asked if I could introduce myself. Flora obliged. During that week I also snapped photos of a number of other politicos, including legendary Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan and of course Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Leader of the Opposition Joe Clark.

Trudeau was mobbed by our group when he came out for a brief encounter– the girls seemed to get to him first. Clark stopped to chat while I was dining in the parliamentary restaurant with my MP, Progressive Conservative Gary Gurbin. In fact, while digging around in a closet on the farm in Glammis last week, just a few days before my own campaign launch, I came across a letter from Clark dated July 3, 1980. It seems I lifted the lid on his desk in the House of Commons during our tour, and left a note to say hello and let him know that we had mutual cousins in Bruce County. (My Aunt Grace, who was married to my Mom's brother Keith Surridge, was related to Clark's Bruce ancestors).

The political bug bit me early. By Grade 13, I'd become the student council president at WDSS, following in the footsteps of my oldest brother Gordon, who'd held the post nine years before. At Carleton University, I double-majored in journalism and political science and during one of my sojourns in the United Kingdom, witnessed the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. Later my father, Ron Thompson, would serve on Bruce Township council and Gordon became the Mayor of Kincardine.

So working as a political reporter for the Toronto Star on Parliament Hill during the Chrétien era was like a dream come true. And while there was lots of grousing at the time about Chrétien's tight grip on communications and the levers of power, looking back, that now seems like a golden age of Canadian democracy compared to the Stephen Harper era.

As my campaign video makes clear, Harper's approach to governing is one of the reasons I am making the plunge into politics. I decided I simply couldn't stand on the sidelines any longer.

But more important, I decided that the time was right to try and give something back, to see if I could make a difference back on home turf.

So here I am, back home in Glammis, seeking the nomination as the federal Liberal candidate in the 2015 election. I've been seriously contemplating this run for a few years now, discussing it with close friends and a few key political contacts. I joined the Liberal Party of Canada in time to vote for Justin Trudeau during the 2013 leadership contest. (I kept a screen capture of my online ballot as a souvenir).

Now I'm in it up to my neck, knocking on doors, meeting party activists, fundraising and working the political circuit in Huron-Bruce to seek support for my bid to be the Liberal candidate in 2015.

I invite you to come along for the ride. For as long as it remains practical, I hope to use this personal blog to document the day-to-day of a political campaign. Please let me know if you see any 10-year-olds drawing my face on a paper plate.


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