Campus Life plays a game of Follow
Is the grass greener? Looking over the fence for leadership
By Maggie Wroble
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
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