Fifty-one years ago next week when the early morning phone call came informing Lester B. Pearson that he was being awarded the "Nobel Peace Prize", his understated typically Canadian reply was: Gosh!"
I have been nostalgic for the past recently, for instance last week noting John Diefenbaker's quip about election polls. My reflections no doubt have something to do with being contemplative about the qualities of leadership and trust in those we elect to govern us.
It seems to me that an essential quality of leadership is the ability to understand what people need from you, whether it is assurances, hope or empathy. The simple notion of "who do you trust to run the economy?" kicked-off Canada's current Federal election debacle. Economic developments in this country and elsewhere particularly over the course of the past week have modified the dynamics of the election. They have highlighted the wobbly campaign illusions. And, they have clearly identified the leadership weaknesses of those who seek our highest political office.
Never mind the millions of dollars spent on carefully crafted images and television personae, attack advertising, and unattainable promises. In his/her own way each of the national party leaders is failing us. Critically perhaps at this country's most challenging period of the last 100 years. This week I have witnessed "du jamais vu!" as the francophone say. Never before has the sale of Canada Savings Bond been postponed. The bonds are after all the backbone of savings by Canadians. Never before have the country's five national banks refused to pass along to Canadians an interest rate cut being implemented by the Bank Of Canada.
Better thinkers and planners than our opposition party leaders, Mr. Dion, Mr. Layton, Mr. Duceppe and Ms May see the Recession ahead, and have said so. Yet none of the people who aspire to lead the next Parliament have dared acknowledge it. Instead they promote unattainable party platforms, wish lists really, which would give them no other choice but to dump the promises should they be elected. They are either liars, in denial, or lack any true vision and direction for a country teetering near the edge of peril.
As for the Prime Minister, editorialists, pundits, commentators, economists have made much this week of his detachment from reality as some have described it. Surely his off the cuff comments about bargains on the stock market are hardly reflective of the discussions underway around the supper tables of this country about jobs, savings, health and education. I am skeptical about Mr. Harper's mother Margaret's concerns for her own savings...comments made while election minding the Harper kids at 24 Sussex Drive surrounded by luxury, security staff, cooks, housekeepers, drivers, and a cadre of employees at the Prime Minister's residence. Good grief, Grandma's home! Give me a break.
Odds are next Wednesday morning when he wakes-up Mr. Harper will still be our Prime-Minister. Though nearly $300-million will have been spent on an election no one wanted, with thoroughly predictable results, and an even slimmer minority for the Conservatives. In that measure of leadership when the Prime Minister looks in the mirror on October 15th he'll know he failed us all.