February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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Campus Life plays a game of Follow The Leader
Is the grass greener? Looking over the fence for leadership

By Maggie Wroble
Gazette Staff

It’s not secret we live in crazy times. Between SARS, mad cow disease and various other national scares, Canadians have been through a lot in the last year alone.

Trying times call for exemplary leadership and the Canadian government has arguably been on shaky feet for the last few terms. Some would argue this weak foundation has driven Canadians to become apathetic and to look to our southern neighbours for examples of leaders. But it’s (obviously) not their political leaders we are looking to for guidance, but their celebrities.

Recently, Robert Cadotte, a former school board commissioner in Quebec, completed a study whose results revealed most elementary school children considered beautiful Americans their primary role models, rather than more traditional Quebecois celebrities.

Cadotte laments this fact in the report and blames the school system in Quebec for not teaching kids about notable French Canadian leaders in politics and arts. He states that it is the teachers’ responsibility to “propose alternative heroes” to students.

A recent book called Innovation Nation: Canadian Leaders from Java to Jurassic Park by Leonard Brody et al., argues that Canadians are in fact the unknown leaders of major worldwide industries and businesses traditionally perceived to be run by Americans.

For instance, Brody reveals that Jeff Mallett, chief operating officer for Yahoo! is a Canuck, as is Jeff Skoll, who was the first president of the popular online community eBay. Canadians also developed Java and wireless e-mail.

The book cites the “innovative thinking, entrepreneurial drive and team building” of these people as the keys to their leadership success and adds that “with qualities such as strong communities, favourable technology tax laws and geographic and cultural proximity to the [United States], Canada is building the physical and intellectual infrastructure necessary to continue to develop as a leading Innovation Nation.”

Whether we are boastful enough to admit it or not, Canadians have the leading edge on many levels. Marie Curie and David Suzuki are famous for their achievements in science, and David Suzuki Foundation continues to raise awareness and introduces people to environmental issues.

Toronto’s Second City is an internationally-renowned hotbed of comic talent, and Mike “Austin Powers” Myers is an alumnus.

But politically, we’ve seen our share of misses, and that is why the myth of Pierre Trudeau (a.k.a. our JFK) is alive and well.

—with files from www.wiley.com and www.canadiandimension.mb.ca



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