Thursday, April 11, 2013

More Reflections on Leadership

The other day, in my post on political leadership, I chose Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as the figure to contrast what I consider to be the much more mature and thoughtful approach of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. My exclusion of the more obvious figure of comparison, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, was intentional, given that I have written so much about him in the past, each post essentially observing the same thing: his addiction to ideological bromides as substitutes for real policy.

That dearth of vision was much in evidence in Hudak's fundraising dinner in Toronto the other day. Saying all the 'right' things to those for whom real thought on policy issues is not an option, young Tim trotted out the usual 'solutions' to all of Ontario's woes, including:

...bringing unions to heel, getting rid of “expensive gold-standard” public pensions, new subways, introducing performance levels for bureaucrats, freezing public-sector wages for two years, and giving tax breaks for employers.

“We will modernize our labour laws so that no worker will be forced to join a union as a condition for taking a job. And no business will be forced to hire a company solely because it has a unionized workforce,” he said.

To regard Hudak as anything more than a tool of the business agenda is difficult, and I am only taking a bit of time to even refer to him here because of a column in today's Star by Judith Timson on how we crave what she calls authenticity in our leaders, which she describes in the following way:

Authenticity does not seem to be about being someone voters want to have a beer with, or even one with whom people always agree. It is about being a leader who comes across as authentically in his or her own skin, not spouting platitudes or panaceas, but one whose words and actions, in a very cynical age, people can believe.

While I don't agree with all of the candidates she cites for their authenticity (Rob Ford, Margaret Thatcher, Justin Trudeau), her other choice, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, resonates with me, for the reasons I gave the other day.

Here is what Timson has to say about her:

Ontario’s new premier, Kathleen Wynne, has brought a different kind of authenticity to her office. For one thing, she has an extraordinary voice — one that is intimate and knowledgeable. Asked about public transit during a CBC radio call-in show not long ago, Wynne first launched into an affecting anecdote about riding Toronto’s brand new subway system back in the 1950s with her grandmother, wearing her “little white gloves.”

It was not only touching but brave, because Wynne dared to come across first as an ordinary person with memories others might share and not as a politician with a spiel about transit. Mind you, she’s also not afraid to deliver the bad news — if citizens want better transit, they will have to pony up in taxes.

So while others are content to talk about gravy trains, union bosses and the need for the euphemistic workplace democracy in their appeals to the passions and prejudices of the masses, Wynne is trying to set a higher standard for political discourse based on reason, fact and guilelessness.

Let's hope she succeeds.

No comments:

Post a Comment