Liberals today are mourning the sad and untimely death of 34-year-old Brad Davis, a young lawyer and father who served as a senior adviser to Deputy Leader Michael Ignatieff, during and after the leadership campaign. A scant few weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer, Davis has died, leaving a wife, two young children and a large circle of Liberal friends who are still incredulous at the news.
Only a few days ago, Davis's old boss used his blog to talk about his fondness for Davis and his hopes for his recovery. Titled "A Post for Brad," Ignatieff writes about the history of their friendship, going back to the 2006 election campaign in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Ignatieff also writes candidly of the surprise cancer diagnosis.
"Through the late fall of 2007, I began to notice that he was losing weight and his colour wasn't good. When I asked him whether he was OK, he told me for the first time that for 20 years he had suffered from a chronic condition and that he now needed some minor surgery. In late December the surgery took place and the discovery was made that Brad had cancer."
But in what must be one of the most poignantly coincidental parts of the post, Ignatieff writes that Davis was proudest of the work Liberals did on the issue of Afghan detainees - an issue that burst into the headlines today, with the news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has actually stopped the transfer of prisoners, as the opposition had been demanding.
"On the Afghan detainee issue, over more than three weeks in May, 2007, working with Denis Coderre and other members of caucus, we forced the government to revise its agreement with the Afghan government and put in a monitoring system to check that the agreement was being followed through. Both of us felt that the detainee issue was one of those moments when we did what Oppositions are supposed to do," Ignatieff writes.
At the time Ignatieff wrote his post to Davis, he was still hoping for a miracle recovery. "When a friend is in trouble, you often discover how much you need him. That's the case with Brad. Everyone around him has discovered how much we need him."
Jason Cherniak, the young lawyer who heads up Liblogs, was gently letting the blogosphere know today that one of the Liberals' savvier Internet strategists was gone: "Brad will be remembered by Liberals as a smart, creative, friendly man who had much more to contribute to Canadian politics than we will ever know," Cherniak told the Star today.
UPDATE: Ignatieff on the hope Davis inspired during his final weeks.