Where is the leadership in Ontario?

It never really pays to analyze leadership.  It is there or it is not.  It can fit the diagrams of psychologists or it can be beyond their patterns.  You can use their diagrams to define a leader but the diagrams cannot produce a leader.  The secret is more in alchemy than in chemistry.  When there is no leadership, the fate of an election becomes more dependent on the interplay of the protagonists and the perceptions of the voters.  That is certainly the case in the Ontario election fixed for this October.

Neither of Premier McGinty’s previous two elections was won through any perception of leadership.  In 2003, McGinty became Premier of Ontario because of the lack of leadership by Conservative Leader Ernie Eves who had been too long in the shadow of the discredited Conservative Premier Michael Harris.  Eves could not defend himself in the demonizing of Harris.  McGinty offered a strong caucus, few promises and the fact that he was not Harris.  That was not leadership. It was being there.

The 2007 campaign was McGinty’s to lose as by this time the Conservatives had corrected their error and picked a leader who had strong leadership characteristics.  John Tory was charismatic, in tune with the times and brought solid values to the provincial Tories.  What he lacked was the key leadership need: direction.  He tried to solve this lack of direction by trying to expand the conservative base vote in Ontario by appealing to the right wing religious vote.  He offered this segment of Ontario society financial support for their parochial schools.  What he gained in the religious communities, he lost in the deeply affronted older W.A.S.P. vote across the province.

For the 2011 campaign, the Ontario Conservatives have fielded a manufactured leader.  Tim Hudak, a young Member of the Legislature from Fort Erie, was an acolyte of Michael Harris.  Deb Hutton, whom many considered the brains(?) behind Harris and certainly his platform, not only picked Hudak but married him and groomed him for the provincial leadership role.  He is a pit bull on the campaign trail but no leader.

Andrea Horwath of the NDP is the wild card in the 2011 election campaign but has yet to show what she can do.  She is the only one of the party leaders with a sense of humour and she also has more street smarts than either of her opponents.  It is too early to say how this will play out.

What we know for sure in this provincial election is that the voters in Ontario are wary of this lack of leadership and are looking for change.  At this stage, we have no idea what that change could be.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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