October 19, 2004

Visionless Leaders of Canada

Straight and to the point, Canada is experiencing a deficit when it comes to Prime Ministers and political leaders with a real vision of where to take our country. Paul Martin seemed headed in the right direction at one time with his talk of recognizing municipalities more, with his proposed expansion of health-care and his constant talk of rejuvenation. Yet, he has seemingly lost his focus. Arguably he spent too much time trying to wrestle power from Chretien. Now that he's got that power he doesn't seem to know much else.

When you've spent so much time only trying to get power, it becomes all you know how to fight for. That is much like anything and anyone. Harper has no real vision except his right-wing agenda (not conspiracy), which aren’t so much a vision but a marginalized and regionalized outlook. Jean Chretien began to show glimpses of something like a vision in his end of days as prime minister, but it was a little too late. Gilles Duceppe is probably the closest thing Canada has to a man of vision. Unfortunately his vision doesn't do much for Canadians outside of Quebec. Actually, there are probably many leaders that have regionalized visions that if given the power to make change would have progressive outcomes. Howard Hampton has a great Ontario-based vision; Quebec has had several aside of Duceppe including Rene Levesque and Lucien Bouchard. Yet, as far as leaders with a vision for all of Canada, it is safe to say we are sorely lacking.

It is a sad state of affairs really. Especially since there have been many leaders in our past with grand visions for our nation. Sir John A. MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada and a founder of Canada, united the English and French colonies and envisioned a unified nation under a railway that would connect the coasts. He believed in the vision of our country and worked to the best of his ability to see this vision become real.

Other great leaders with Canadian visions include men such as Lester Pearson who introduced a national labour code, national health care and our current flag. And these are only some of his accomplishments. There is also Tommy Douglas, a man who never held the Prime Minister post but didn't ever believe he needed to, to affect change. He is the man who introduced the idea of national health care to Canada and pushed for social welfare and Canadian pension programs all because he believed Canadians deserved better. Then there is Pierre Trudeau, Canada's own 'philosopher king'. He envisioned a unified Canada under the Official Languages Act and then finally under Canada's own constitution. Others that can also be included are: John Diefenbaker, introducer of the Canadian Bill of Rights; J.S. Woodsworth, fought for social reform and class equality; and Nellie McClung, led the fight to achieve women’s' right to vote and was outspoken on social change.

There are others in our history that could also be included, and there must be some that are present today. But as far as our prominent leaders go, there is surely a deficit. Too many of our leaders are tied into specific agendas and only possess marginalized ideas, far from what could be considered a Canadian vision. There needs to be a return to the open, optimistic way of thought. This is where true visions and real progress lie for Canada. Our history has shown that Canada was built on a foundation of progressive ideas that were done for the benefit of all Canadians and not just the few. This then is where our future also lies and Canadians need to begin looking for a leader of vision.


Rich said...

What about St├ęphane Dion? He's got a good head to look at the big picture right now, don't you think?

Just, you know, ignore the fact that he's letting his responsibilities in his own portfolio slide, by looking at the bigger picture. If the fish go extinct it's because he's too smart to do that job, right?

But ignoring that, I think he could take the big job.

HDcanuck said...

Gille Duceppe? A vision for Canada? Are you kidding? That was a joke, wasn't it?

Kyle said...

"Gilles Duceppe is probably the closest thing Canada has to a man of vision. Unfortunately his vision doesn't do much for Canadians outside of Quebec"

He lives within Canada and whether he likes it or not, is considered Canadian. Therefore he is a man of Canada who has a vision... just not a very good one.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)