We are not getting much provincial leadership in Canada these days. Despite liking both Andrew Furey in Newfoundland and Labrador and John Horgan of B.C., I cannot say much for the premiers in the mushy middle. I must admit that I really dislike Doug Ford of Ontario and Jason Kenney of Alberta. They are interesting from a leadership training point of view. Doug Ford has absolutely no training for a job that has overwhelmed him and Jason Kenney’s training must have been too much.
Jason Kenney’s training began when he was elected from Calgary as a Reform candidate to Ottawa in 1997, re-elected as an Alliance MP in 2000 and then as conservative MP in the next four elections. He spent 19 years in total in Ottawa, mostly under the tutelage of prime minister Stephen Harper. It is a period that we still think of as Steve’s reign of terror.
But it was what Kenney spent the most time doing for Harper that intrigued me. As a political communicator in Toronto, I spent a sizeable portion of time learning about and working with the ethnic news media. It taught me a lot about our broad mix of cultures. I found Kenney doing the same research for the conservatives that I had done 30 years earlier.
What bothered me with Kenney, he was using the information gained to further the careers of some conservatives that were not worth it. He showed Harper how to speak in front of a wall of people in an ethnic mix instead of white men in suits. He sent people such as Patrick Brown, my MP from Barrie, to learn about the Indian Sub-Continent. Kenney made inroads for the conservatives with ethnic groups.
Interestingly, it is the pandemic that has shown how bad both Ford in Ontario and Kenney in Alberta are at leadership. Neither man has the life experience to lead people. Jason Kenney is a social conservative. He is a lackey of the oil industry. He is a schemer, a user and a misogynist. He is no leader. And his knowledge of ethnic Canadians is not as helpful in Alberta.
Doug Ford was always more interested in his father’s label printing business than his dad’s stint as an Ontario MPP. His younger brother Rob taught him some moves in the municipal arena of politics but he came into the premier’s job with little or no idea what it was all about.
Both Ford and Kenney could be history after the next provincial elections in their provinces.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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