Dec 5, 2008

Is this all the leadership we have to offer?

The recent melodrama of Canadian politics has made one thing clear: we have a dearth of effective leaders in our government.

An effective leader knows what to do and gets it done. His or her prime directive should be to put the enterprise first, and him/her after. Evidently, none of our current leaders seem to realize this.

Let's see, now:
  • Michael Ignatieff: he was pegged as the next Liberal leader. In that capacity, now more than ever, he should step up to the plate and take a stance. Instead, he chooses to sit back, be non-committal, waiting to step forward when conditions are favourable. Not the sign of a great leader: I will jump in when things favour me.
  • Stéphane Dion: I admire the guy's tenacity, but enough is enough. Wednesday's blunder makes Inspector Clouseau look like Stephen Hawking. Few people want him as the head of the Liberal party, yet he clings on like a desperate cat hanging from a tree limb. An effective leader recognizes when he/she is no longer helpful. Mr. Dion is no longer helping the Liberal party: he is severely hindering it. If there was an election today, Mr. Dion's mistake would probably hand a majority government to the Tories.
  • Stephen Harper: in a scant few days, Stephen Harper has tarnished his image as a strategic, competent leader and now appears as a self-absorbed, power-hungry man. He showed that he is willing to go to almost any length in order to hold on to power. In the last two months, he has twice shown that he is completely out of touch with his surroundings. Once, after proposing a measure that infuriated Quebecers and most likely cost him his majority. And now, the current political upheaval. His address on national television was one filled with fear-mongering, blaming, and finger-pointing. He has become the most polarizing figure in Canadian politics and for the first time in years, "sovereignty" has once again become the centre of political discourse.
  • Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe: both acknowledge that they need to rely on each other to get through the current mess. However, how long could such a coalition last? Mr. Duceppe has stated that he is willing to vote in favour of any measure that is favourable to Quebec. He has also pledged not to undermine the coalition for the next 18 months. But how will he vote if a measure is proposed, that does not favour Quebec?
  • Bob Rae: after dilly dallying, Mr. Rae seems to have donned his suit of armor and is ready to do battle. He stepped to the forefront of the coalition, ready to lead them to battle. Too bad the governor-general has scuttled his plans, for now. Nevertheless, he is the one that currently projects the best leadership qualities. He is calling for calm, and working to reassure business leaders that there is no 'crisis' in Ottawa, while simultaneously working with the other party leaders. In the past few days, he has decided to enter the leadership race and has stepped up to role of coalition advocate. If he does it well, keeps on message and maintains his enthusiasm until the Liberal leadership race in May, he may well become Mr. Dion's successor.
We're in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis, with daily announcements of massive layoffs, dire warnings of tough times, and meanwhile, our government is putting more effort on saving its hide than it is on creating a better future for all Canadians.

When I look at our neighbours to the South, who just elected a unifying figure to counter eight years of disastrous PR, all I can think about is this: Is this really all we have to offer ourselves?

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