Shady Canadian Leadership?
By Laura Katsirdakis
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.