Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Care and Feeding of Leaders

Having worked on Stéphane Dion's Liberal leadership bid, last night's Quebec election has me thinking a lot about the expectations we have of our leaders, and their fates if/when they disappoint. It's being widely speculated that the knives are already out for André Boisclair, PQ leader for less than a year. Mr. Dion could face an election as early as next month – his fifth month as Liberal leader. If he loses, will he face the same fate? Should he?

Boisclair has always struck me as a bit of a hair-do. Mostly charm, not a lot of substance. And it's not unreasonable to say he underperformed in this campaign. But in all fairness, it's too soon for him to be shown the door.

We say we want our leaders to be visionaries, and we ask them to take us down a road we can't see in its entirety. But then we look to punish them if they don't deliver immediate results. We forget (or ignore) that wars are combinations of battles and that winning strategies include contingency plans that take setbacks into account.

Last night's result is a setback for the sovereignty movement (let's hope for many more), but that setback is as much about the movement itself, and the shifting values of Quebeckers as it is about the guy at the helm. And the war's not over yet. If Boisclair is forced out at this stage of the game, it will be the movement's failing, not the leader's.

Given everything we put into choosing our leaders, and everything they put on the line for us, we owe them better than that. Something I hope the federal Liberals keep in mind if we're still in opposition after the next E-Day.

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