Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thoughts on leadership

Over the last few days I've been reading a lot in the media and the blogshpere about the process leading up to the vote on the renewal of the anti-terror legislation last week, and the aftermath of its defeat. Particularly, about the handling of the file by Stephane Dion and its fallout going forward.

The media, for their part, seem wholly focused on the politics of it, enamored with tales of caucus intrigue and what not, while devoting next to no coverage about the provisions themselves, and the arguments for and against them.

But never mind the media. Also interesting has been the Conservative spin on this, which I've seen being parroted by the supposedly neutral media, and even by some Liberal supporters against the Dion's decision to not support renewal.

It goes a little something like this: Dion was a political opportunist that took the easy way out, deciding to score political points and ignore members of his own caucus, the public, Air India and 9/11 families. This, they argue, shows weak leadership. There's more, soft on terror, extremists and so on, but I'd like to focus on this talking point.

Poppycock. It's being a political opportunist, to, by their argument, go against prominent ex-ministers, caucus members, the families of terror victims and public opinion? THAT is the easy way out? Sounds like a pretty hard way to me. It would be easy to just give in to all that pressure, would it not?

It makes no sense. It would seem to me that it takes real leadership to, despite prominent ex-ministers, caucus members, the families of terror victims and public opinion, take a moral stand, and stand-up for what you believe to be right and true. To say maybe I'll take a hit on this, maybe it won't be immediately popular, but not renewing these provisions is the right thing to do and I'm going to stand-up and say so, damm the torpedoes, because right is right.

That, in my book, is real leadership.

UPDATE: Via Dan, a great column by Dion in the National Post.

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8 comments:

Gauntlet said...

Doing something unpopular is not the same as leadership.

Doing something unpopular because you believe it's right, is not leadership.

Even being correct about whether or not it is right, and doing it despite its unpopularity is not leadership.

Bringing people to your side, making them see that you are working together toward something important, motivating them to help you, that's leadership.

Devin said...

Gauntlet:

Doing something that is unpopular because it is right IS leadership... Its a textbook definition.

UWHabs said...

I gotta agree with Jeff here. The easy way out would have been to let everyone vote how they wanted to, or to even suggest people vote for the extensions, since that would make us seem either open to everyone's beliefs, or to make us a party that is tough on terror.

It takes a strong man to take the lead and make people vote for what you believe in, even if it isn't the most popular thing. Hopefully he continues to show this leadership in any interviews about this, as well as in any debates, and that he can show people why this was the right decision.

Orchard said...

How about the Flip-Flop talking point, borrowed straight out of the Bush administration lexicon, that is now being adopted by the left (See La Revue Gauche).

Is it flip-flopping for new leadership to make decisions different from previous leaders? Is this somehow tabboo now? Is the party meant to be historically frozen?

I mean, it's conveniently consistent with the talking point that Dion is a weak leader (which I find to be utterly inconsistent with the reality of the situation), but why is it that supposedly enlightened people are taking up this talking point?

What gives?

ottlib said...

Actually gauntlet he did bring a fair number of people over to his way of thinking, if you connect the dots the MSM was telling us in the last weeks.

About a week-and-a-half ago there was much talk about 30-some Liberal members planning on defying the party line and supporting the government.

Well, that number was reduced to one. If you throw in Mr. Cotler's abstention and the dozen Liberals members that did not show up it would appear that Mr. Dion brought half of that 30 over to his way of thinking.

That is leadership. Throw in the fact the politically expedient course of action would have been not to rock the boat and you have great leadership.

It remains to be seen how this will play out in the medium to long-term.

pkarza said...

Leadership is not dictating to your caucus.

That has been tried by many before - and failed.

I'm just glad he is not the PM - and I'm sure he never will be.

Dion is not a leader. Dion is weak, as all dictators tend to be so.

Scotian said...

pkarza said...

"Leadership is not dictating to your caucus.

That has been tried by many before - and failed." 1:26 PM, March 02, 2007

Tell that to Mr. Harper, since you are describing his method and according to most CPCers he is quite a successful leader. To try and claim this of Dion appears to show yet another example of Conservative projection instead of reality. It is too bad that Harper, the CPC and far too many of their online supporters felt it was more important to use this issue as a partisan club than it was to place the security *AND* the rights of Canadians first and deal with this issue in a serious and sober manner. I place most of this on Harper because when one examines the chronology of the smears/attacks on this issue they start from the CPC with the Libs reacting in defence. It is the initiator that carries primary responsibility for why something happens and not those on the receiving end, unless of course you think the Libs should have taken these attacks and simply said "please sir may I have some more?" which is what apparently to listen to all those upset at the Libs reacting to these smears is what they think the Libs should have done.

Somehow I rather doubt that if the tables were turned and it was their party being so attacked and responding to then being given at least equal responsibility/blame for the nastiness that erupted they would agree that their party should have just stayed silent and let the attacks happen without defending against them. Yet further example of the amount of Harpocrisy we are seeing in our politics these days.

paulsstuff said...

"It is too bad that Harper, the CPC and far too many of their online supporters felt it was more important to use this issue as a partisan club than it was to place the security *AND* the rights of Canadians first and deal with this issue in a serious and sober manner"

Actually this was dealt with, by the Supreme Court of Canada no less. It was ruled the ATA provisions did not violate a persons rights under the charter.

And perhaps if Dion had not reversed the parties position on the upcoming vote after a closed door meeting in late October he would have been cut some slack. A large number of Liberal's pushed to have the legislation extended, but Dion decided and dictated how everyone would vote.