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A Contrast in Leadership

October 15, 2010

This week we have seen a real contrast in leadership styles.

First we have Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the UN.  What should have been a sure thing, Canada being chosen to fill the rotating two-year seat on the security council, became a huge disappointment.  Why did this happen? The reason seems to be that the world doesn’t agree with Canada’s approach on a range of issues such as climate change, aid for the third world, peacekeeping and the middle east peace process.  Harper’s leadership style is that of a bulldozer, sticking to his principles that no one agrees with, even if it hurts our country.  He claims these are Canadian principles but there are Conservative Reform principles. Canada’s principles stand up for the environment, for the downtrodden, for democracy for peace and for balance.  Stephen Harper is a leader that does not listening to the majority who disagrees with him and tries to impose new principles on his country.

In contrast Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has always been the opposite of Harper.  An overthinking, noncommittal kind of leader waiting to see what is popular before he speaks. But recently he really does seem to be starting to learn how to use his strengths.  He’s an intelligent, clear speaker who can confidently answer questions on the spot in a thoughtful manner. So how to best present him to the Canadian public? Highly scripted and triangulating talking points of course!  Well, that has seemed to the be the Liberal strategy until this summer before the Bus Tour of Infamy.  Now Iggy is doing town halls around the country with online discussion.  And he’s coming across great.  I don’t agree with him on everything but at least he’s talking about issues in a reasonable manner and telling us what he actually thinks which is something the Conservatives are incapable of.

I guess that’s what happened  earlier in the summer when Iggy implied that Canada doesn’t deserve a UN Security Council seat.  He was saying what he thought, what a lot of people are thinking, we don’t really deserve it.  Unfortunately the rest of the world seems to agree. But that doesn’t mean you should say that out loud. A UNSC seat would be useful for Canada to exert influence and stretching the truth a bit and looking like we’re all one happy family (even though we’re soooo not) would be worth it to get that influence.  So, his comments were ill advised, he should have said what Bob Rae said, which was gracious, polite and true. In fact, that’s a good rule in general for Iggy, ask Bob first. But I digress.
But even given that, anything Iggy said was also irrelevant to the decision process at the UN.  I’m sure most UN delegates don’t pay any attention to internal Canadian politics.  They may know we have a minority government but that’s all.  Why do you think the world is so baffled at our conservative shift over the past five years? They don’t see what’s happening inside unless they meticulously read that one article a month in th Economist about us.

Finally, a comment on leader of the Bloc Quebecios Gilles Duceppe, usually the most reasonable person in the room until he starts talking about Quebec seperation.  Today he tried to explain to Americans why a sovereign Quebec would be good for everyone in North America.  I’m sure all investors will hear is “Don’t invest in Quebec, we’re not done throwing tantrums yet, we like to keep it interesting.” That should be Quebec’s new slogan “Stability Schmability. Quebec. Keeping it Interesting”.   Talk like this makes it even harder for the other parties to talk about working with the Bloc in any way which is a shame because the current polls show that the Bloc are stronger than ever and everyone else is weaker than ever.  We’d still end up with a minority but unless some other party can make inroads into Quebec there is no clear path to a government which represents much more of the population the current pitiful 35% supported Conservative government.

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