As a journalist, you don’t really get to “know” political figures. Even if they’ve known you for years, I think they have in the back of their minds a concern that if they truly let down their guards, something bad is going to happen.
The interesting thing I’ve found in recent weeks with the three provincial party leaders is that they actually drop their guards considerably in conversation. Sure, there is a public persona there, but Christy Clark, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver will share some personal things, admit the occasional imperfection, and be content to let the chips fall where they may.
In other words, they’re not afraid to be real because they are comfortable in their own skins. When the microphone is off, they don’t change character the way I’ve seen other politicians change. Stephen Harper, for instance, was all on message track when the formal interview was on. When the recording ended, he wanted to talk hockey, music, books — and really wanted to talk about it, as if he were shedding a veil.
Without disclosing which BC leader said what, I can say that in my interview sessions for Roundhouse Radio one leader swore for fun, one teared up, and one told a self-deprecating story that would make you wonder how any party could choose such a leader. And yes, they didn’t say it into the microphone—wish they had—but what they said into the microphone wasn’t far off those candid moments. And they weren’t letting me or those around me in on some private joke. They were just grounded.