Thursday, February 11, 2010

Canadian Politics – Follow the Leader at Their Own Peril

Despite the negative public reaction to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to Prorogue Parliament, the country’s largest province is following his lead.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his intentions to Prorogue the Ontario Legislature after the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, prior to his speech from the throne.

By law, there has to be a break prior to a new throne speech – however this break usually only last a day or two.

Political pundits say Premier McGuinty is taking the unusual step of Proroguing the Legislature to buy time for two new additions to his cabinet, due to recent by-elections. This extra time will allow the two new members of his political circle to catch up on the latest issues affecting their ministries.

The Ontario Premier wasn’t blind to the very public backlash against Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government, for their Proroguing of Parliament. He says he took that into account when making his decision, and as such, he won’t delay the legislature as long as the federal government delayed Parliament.

The news media was quick to jump all over the federal government’s Proroguing decision, and there have been numerous large public protests across the country.
Social networking sites on the Internet have also had quite the following, with thousands joining a Facebook site against the Prime Minister’s decision.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the Ontario Premier’s decision to halt the business of governing, the public perception of governance in this country continues to go south.

There have always been jokes about politicians and their credibility.

However, as politicians constantly find the quickest and easiest routes to achieve their agendas – some of which have more to do with staying ahead of the opposition parties instead of actually managing the affairs of the governing bodies which they run – the public support not just of the ruling party, but of politicians in general continues to fall.

How can you place your faith and trust in the hands of people you don’t respect?
Even at the municipal level politicians are doing things which clearly cost them and their profession much needed support.

Here in Canada’s largest city – Toronto – a local mayoral candidate has been caught in an affair similar to former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s “Monicagate.”

Toronto City Councilor Adam Giambrone admitted that he has had intimate relationships with women other than his long-time live-in partner over the course of his political career – there are even reports that he may have engaged in sexual activities on his couch in his office at Toronto City Hall.

Although the thought of a public official’s office being used in a sexual affair is gross at best, an individual’s personal affairs are just that – personal and not really a matter of public concern.

What is of public concern in “Giambronegate” is the honesty of Giambrone. When one of his former mistresses first made the sexual allegations, the mayoral candidate for Canada’s largest city intentionally mislead the public by denying the allegations. Giambrone has since withdrawn from the mayoral race.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” are famous falsities from former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Although President Clinton’s well documented affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky actually helped propel his popularity, as it increased his image as a John F. Kennedy-like womanizer and sex symbol.

Unfortunately for Giambrone, Canadian politicians rarely make the leap to celebrity sex symbol. The only Canadian politician who was able to really successfully pull that off was former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau during what became known as Trudeaumania back in the late 1960’s with numerous relationships with celebrities and starlets. Trudeaumania actually started its decline shortly after Prime Minister Trudeau got married in 1971, clearly showing the link between the famed Prime Minister’s single-status sex appeal, which ended when he was no longer “on the market.”

If Giambrone’s self-confessed “lapse in judgment” does anything, is further degrade the public’s trust in our public officials. How can you respect someone who publicly denies something which they were clearly did? How can you respect someone who backtracks on their public statements – essentially admitting their initial deception – once the facts begin to surface.

I ask again, how can you place your faith and trust in the hands of people you don’t respect?

Following the leader is no way to lead, yet that is what these politicians are doing in a manner of speaking.

Real leadership is just that – leadership. You can’t be a follower and a leader at the same time.

Until we have real leadership in this country – at all levels of government – the public’s perception of politicians will be nothing more, than follow the leader.

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