Friday, January 17, 2014

A World Badly In Need Of Inspired Leadership

Since he was elected to the position, I have written several posts related to Pope Francis; several of them express a renewed hope that the plain-speaking pontiff can generate some hope in a world badly in need of inspiring leadership, something almost wholly absent in our current crop of politicos, obsessed as they are first and foremost with the attainment and retention of power.

In response to a recent article by the Star's Carol Goar, readers offer their perspective on what politicians could learn from Francis:

Goar: World leaders respond to Pope’s message, Opinion Jan. 12

Carol Goar’s piece on Pope Francis highlights the amazing influence that Pope Francis musters — not only with key global political leaders but also with his unlikely admirers such as the influential gay rights magazine The Advocate, that praised the Pope’s impressive “stark change in rhetoric.”

It is befitting that this simple, humble, affable lead pastor, who has successfully focused world attention on the worsening plight of the poor and the marginalized, was placed fourth on the list of the world’s most powerful people by Forbes, the leading American business magazine.

This is clearly a clarion call to politicians, globally and especially in Canada. Such timely notice, that immediate steps must be taken to heed public opinion and address inequality in a responsive and progressive manner, will not be lost on our politicians. It is easy to see that “trickle down economics” has not worked, except for the top 1 per cent who conveniently help to promote this mantra, ad nauseum.

Let us hope that the political pendulum will swing in unison with the aspirations of Canadians going forward. The will of the electorate should result in welcome winds of change — shaping a better and gentler Canada.

As Winston Churchill famously said: “If one does not bend with the wind, one will end with the wind.”

Rudy Fernandes, Mississauga

Canada is in the final stages of creating a national holiday to honour Pope John Paul II. Yet it is Pope Francis who recently called us to pay attention to the extreme poor whose plight is often ignored. He has decried our indifference towards those who die of hunger and suffer as a result of malnutrition, while we have the tools and the resources to end hunger and poverty in a single generation.

In fact, over 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, earning $1.25 or less per day. And 400 million of the world’s extreme poor are children.
We need the voice and moral force that Pope Francis and all leaders from the world’s faiths can provide. We also need an economic plan that is equal to the task.

Canada has established one leg of the stool — the Muskoka Initiative, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented in 2010. It aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world’s poorest countries by strengthening health systems, preventing and treating the leading illnesses and diseases that kill women and children and improving nutrition.

Canada should ensure the Muskoka Initiative is extended and expanded into a legacy program deserving of a national holiday.

Randy Rudolph, Calgary

A very good article, and an eye opener to those political leaders whose eyes are still “closed” and minds shut — “fixed” on doing only what will bring them back into power.

A quick comment/suggestion I would offer is a review of our tax system. Yes, keep taxes low for the low-income earners, however, the marginal tax rate should be increased dramatically for the higher income earners — CEOs and other executives who are paid salaries and bonuses that are way, way, way beyond what they need to live extraordinarily luxurious lives.

The marginal tax rates for these people should be increased, incrementally, from the current maximum of 46 per cent up to 70 per cent (and this will not hurt their lifestyles).

And the revenue generated should be used to pay for proper child care, further education, the homeless in our society, seniors’ benefits, our First Nations and veterans benefits.

Al Mathias, Mississauga

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