defining ‘leadership’ might suggest one can write a prescription for why one
Premier can command popular support and another fails. Declining popularity,
for Premier Kathy Dunderdale and her Administration, certainly puts the question
under a critical spot light.
a tricky matter; for political leaders in trouble, it says more about their
ability to ‘connect’ with the body politic, than the public’s excess of
expectations. Such a connection
determines not just how much latitude they exercise, but how far the public’s
patience can be stretched. Those who successfully
bond are skilful and confident. They can
expect that, if the relationship diminishes, it might be rekindled, later.
is truly as complex as the person at the helm. Those who possess leadership’s essential
qualities seldom need the affirmation of opinion polls.
this Premier connected with her ‘body politic’?
I don’t believe she ever was. Afterall, there
was no leadership contest; an essential early screening, common in all
political parties, was deftly avoided.
Delivered by Danny Williams, on the centrifugal force of his own pixie
dust, Ms. Dunderdale proceeded to complete his unfinished mandate. She never once tried to define her own.
easy ascension deprived her of an opportunity to demonstrate that she had no
betters, in the Tory Party. Where is
honor to be found when an absence of political scars, fatigue and the
occasional misspeak, still affords one the reins of power? Indeed, such a bloodless pursuit may have denied
her victory’s essential legitimacy.
merely a condition conferred by having won the largest number of seats. The Premier, legitimately, acquired that perquisite. But real power, in a democratic society, is jealously
guarded by a wary public. It ebbs and
flows. How much is given, and retrieved,
is always determined by how well the leader performs.
is, only minimally, a list of achievements; it speaks to communications, to mutual
respect and, especially, to the ability to convey a certainty that you know
what you are doing. Those exchanges are
neither arrogant nor condescending; at times, one must beg forgiveness, the
leader shouldn’t make excuses, but she ought to frequently offer the assurance
that she will try harder.
politic is not mean, but it is demanding. It seeks more, if more is promised;
it will be satisfied with less, if it is demonstrated to be in the public
interest. For every political leader, communications is not hit or miss; it is a
two way process and it simply never stops.
odd parts about our political system is that Premiers can win a majority
without personal electoral support. Though their credibility, style or ‘je ne
sais quoi’ is important, often the Party’s ‘brand power’, and the momentum created
by others, translates into their success.
If this describes the ascension of Premier Dunderdale to the 8th floor, a
succession of bad Polls confirm, that the force has no staying power. Put simply, the Premier has been drawing on a
storehouse of goodwill, developed by her predecessor, which she has failed to replenish.
as poorly as it has been explained and justified, as miserably as Provincial
Budgets have been handled, while the details may be beyond most people’s grasp,
the public possesses an unmistakable ability to sense failure. They see a Premier not in control, not
understanding of the heavy burden she sought; one unable to distinguish between
the significant and the foolhardy.
worse, the Premier demonstrates no capacity for discussing issues openly,
knowledgeably or respectfully. She is preoccupied with secrecy. She disrespects her critics, including those
who want her to succeed. She has allowed
her senior Cabinet Ministers to emulate her, leaving little opportunity for the
Government to change course. On what basis,
then, is the Premier awaiting a magical turnaround?
Polls place the Government in third spot, the Premier’s personal popularity
is in the same place; yet, with an air of defiance, she tells us the problem is
‘difficult decisions’. This is a fantasy.
endure tough days, at some point, in their tenure. Most often, leaders are pummelled by events
quite beyond their control. Some handle them well and rebound; others poorly,
and thus they disappear from the political landscape. The current problems are those
of the Premier’s making.
been as well off, as it is presently.
The Government has never had so much money to contribute to social
programs, to build infrastructure or provide government services.
basis does Premier Dunderdale claim that she has the ability to re-build her
relationship with the electorate? When was the connection made? How can one
re-build what never really existed?
Dunderdale finds herself in a position where the one thing she possesses, in
excess, is time; though it won’t last. She
may hope another Poll contains a different outcome, and if not that one, the
Party loyalties, structure and constitution will protect the Premier from
review, if she employs them. But, no one is impervious. Caucus solidarity, even if it is not pretense,
cannot endure the weight of more bad Polls.
The Premier must know that many long standing P.C. Party organizers no
longer maintain their silence. Nothing
good will result if her Party is sacrificed by the hubris of its most senior
the Premier must give herself a defined period, say six months, during which to
make the positive connection with the electorate, I described earlier. Failing this test, the Premier should call it