February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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Shady Canadian Leadership?

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

Ask any Canadian about political leadership and you are almost certain to get a response along the lines of a snort or shrug. Does Canada have leaders in its political landscape?

This question is all the more pertinent this week, as news of the federal Liberal government spending scandal has been filling newspapers nationwide. Prime Minister Paul Martin has shifted responsibility to a curiously small group of government employees and claimed he had no knowledge of their activities. Former prime minister Jean Chrétien responded to press questions by saying, “If you have questions, ask them of the government.”

Leadership hopefuls of the newly formed Conservative Party of Canada are likely salivating at the news.

Ipsos-Reid polls cited by The Globe and Mail on Tuesday showed support for the Liberals has dropped from 48 per cent on Jan. 15 to just 35 per cent yesterday. The Conservatives jumped from 19 to 27 per cent, and the New Democratic Party has gone from 16 to 17 per cent. This is a substantial drop in approval ratings, and with a federal election nearing, it’s apparent that a strong Liberal victory may not materialize.

How does all this speak to the issue of leadership in Canada? Answer: there is none. Leaders are politicians; they are slippery creatures who dodge controversy and always seem to be revealed as people who operate without any real principles.

Remember Ernie Eves? He ran a seemingly tight ship as premier of Ontario, but as soon as he turned power over to Dalton McGuinty we found out he had left a nice farewell present: a $5.6 billion deficit.

Similarly, Chrétien has blatantly refused to address the spending scandal Martin must now deal with.

A leader should provide direction as well as be the figurehead of government. Yet Canada’s leaders have been predisposed to the turncoat disease. This is far from inspiring, and if it does provide direction for this country, then there is cause to worry.



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