Elections are a leap of faith for the electorate. We vote for people who best represent our values and beliefs, including belief in their ability to help fulfill promises that in turn benefit our hopes and ambitions. Of course, fulfilling promises depends largely on a candidate’s party’s success in an election and on leadership of the new governing party. Not surprisingly, four years later we may be disappointed in the lack of success by our elected members, especially the leadership.
Four years ago, a young man of political pedigree led his party to victory by impressing most with his apparently hopeful, positive and egalitarian leadership. He even promised reduced deficits and a balanced budget over four years. Now, four years later, he runs again, but not as the man or the leader many thought they knew.
Leadership is mostly about character and strength of character. Intelligence, experience, decency, fairness, common sense and resolve are pillars of that strength. Our best leaders are the best and smartest people in the room. They command respect by all around them, including their adversaries. When a strong leader speaks, people don’t just hear, they heed. A strong leader’s vision is a vision for most of us, and we accept their plan of action to fulfill that vision. If there are challenges or setbacks to their work, we believe in that leader’s ability to handle it.
The federal Liberals are at risk of not being re-elected next week to lead government, mostly due to their leader’s unfulfilled promises and his diminished character. True, as the incumbent head, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is subject to more scrutiny and measurement, but he has failed as a leader.
Mr. Trudeau’s main opponent in the upcoming election, Andrew Scheer, is understandably facing similar scrutiny of his leadership qualities. Mr. Scheer seems to measure higher on honesty and decency, obviously good leadership values, but he can’t seem to convey his character to us, especially a strength of character to lead our government. I think he’s the better man but, frankly, I see him as the best of a bad lot.
A lack of trust in Mr. Trudeau is justified but it’s also another example of the malaise governments elsewhere are experiencing. The dearth of good leaders world-wide, starting at the bottom with Mr. Trump but including the failed leaders of Britain, to name only a few, adds to our skepticism and lack of confidence in elected leaders. There are huge global issues and we’re looking for heroes, anywhere and everywhere (maybe that’s why comic book superheroes are so popular). Good people abound, always, but most are not looking to run countries. Canada, the upcoming election and our leadership crisis are a microcosm in world affairs, but it would be smart to show ourselves and the world we can set a good example.
We need a strong leader for all of Canada, one that can balance our diverse but mutual interests and needs, and a budget, and one that’s also respected at home and abroad. Here’s hoping.
Roger Jackson is a former civil servant and a St. Albert resident.