The Next Chapter

Noah Richler on exactly what it's like to lose an election

Noah Richler on the failed political campaign that inspired his latest book, The Candidate.
In The Candidate: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Noah Richler chronicles the highs and lows of his short-lived political career. (Melissa Fundira/CBC)

The Candidate details Noah Richler's experience running for office as an NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election. His main rival was Liberal incumbent Dr. Carolyn Bennett, who had served as the MP for Toronto-St. Paul's since 1997. Despite the odds, Richler launched himself into the campaign and gave it his all. The book offers an honest, critical and often funny look at his firsthand experience of Canadian politics.

The campaign math he found inspiring

I was one of 1,454 candidates that did not end up in the House. There were 1,792 campaigns, and I figured out at one point that if 40 volunteers worked on each of those campaigns — and that's a low number — there would have been over 17,000 people giving their time and resources to the election. And that actually was tremendously moving.

Why he ran in Toronto 

For a time, I had thought of running in the part of Nova Scotia where I spend a great deal of time, and I presented a plan to the NDP that I would walk this horseshoe-shaped region and knock on every door. And I remember the campaign organizer saying well, that's hokey, but that's how you win elections. He wanted me to run in Toronto, because the party felt that that's where the discussion would be. A lot of the press is here and they felt that more of the ideas would be conveyed. And I was running to pitch my ideas into the ring, so that felt sound. I wanted to step up and show by example that the third party, the NDP, was viable. So I did so.

On losing the election

At first, it was stupidly devastating. I felt that it was not just the 50,000 voters in my riding who had voted against me, it felt like 35 million people had sent me a handwritten note saying "Forget it, pal." And I knew that. But you're so invested by that time that you're kind of emotionally naked, and whatever protections you might be able to offer up to defeat come down. It took me a long time to recover. Happily, the book was cathartic. It did help me make sense of it.

Noah Richler's comments have been edited and condensed.

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