The People’s Champion

Dennis King takes a seat in the back row of the stands in an empty Eastlink arena.

He’s alone. It’s quiet.

In the room behind him, it’s a much different scene: campaign volunteers are scattered everywhere. Some standing, talking on their cell phones. Some seated, pecking at laptops. All are making last minute contact with Dennis’s supporters before polls close just a few hours later.

“Today is the day you’re voting for a new PC leader,” one says.

Back in the solitude of the stands, after practising his opening speech and making some last minute edits, Dennis picks up his cellphone to make the most important call of the afternoon.

“How’s the production going? Going good?”

His son Jacob, who’s a student at Dalhousie University, couldn’t be at the PC convention today.

“It’s gonna be fun. Wish you were here,” Denny says.

 “Love ya, buddy,” he ends the call.

He tells me Jacob is playing Don Juan DeMarco in the school’s latest production.

I joke that he’s curious about Jacob’s performance when he should be concerned about his own.

“You’re a father first,” he says.

Then, as if looking back on the road that got him here, he stares at his shoes, then the rafters.

I ask him what he’s thinking in this moment.

“It’s almost surreal, sometimes, when you think of it,” he says. “It’s like you’re watching a TV show or something. Only you’re in it.”

If he’s in a TV show, it’s one with a lot of fans.

He’s been getting messages of encouragement all day. He reads part of one aloud.

“’It’s a big day, and you can be sure you have a passionate community behind you.’”

I ask him how it feels to have that kind of support.

He tells me it feels good, that he wants to win. Not just because he’s competitive, he says, but he also doesn’t want to let his people down.

“When I grew up, the Premier didn’t come from Georgetown Royalty,” he says. “So I’m like, ‘Who do I think I am to do this?’”

He’s Dennis King, I remind him. From Georgetown.

“You’re a small town boy,” I say. “And that’s why so many Islanders relate to you.”

Immediately after I say it, I picture Canadian actor Al Waxman, walking down the street, while the theme song for the old CBC show ‘King of Kensington’ plays in my head:

“When he walks down the street,

He smiles at everyone…”

He’s being summoned now to head down to the stage and deliver his speech.

Time for this TV show to become reality.

“Dennis! Dennis! Dennis!,” cheers the crowd of supporters around him as he walks through the lobby and into the arena’s trade show section, where the convention is taking place.

“There’s a new King in town!” the loudspeaker booms as he approaches the stage.

“He finds his fortune in the faces that surround him,

His wife says helping other people brings him luck…”

Fast forward the program, now – through the candidates’ speeches, the reading of the first ballot, the second ballot – and press play as soon as the confetti erupts.

He’s done it.

Dennis King from Georgetown Royalty is now in the running to be the next Premier of Prince Edward Island.

“He’s a man among men, the people’s champion

And when destiny calls him…”

…he gets to work.

On to the next episode.