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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Harinder Takhar - In It To Win

             - Michael Bryant

Seven individuals are running to become the next Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier.
It's a fascinating race with a remarkable slate of candidates, each bringing with them tons of experience amassed inside and outside of government.  It also happens to a be remarkably diverse slate, as far as traditional politics goes; there are two women candidates, two openly-gay candidates, a candidate with a physical impairment (that makes zero difference in their ability to do the job they're running for) and of course, the first Sikh candidate of South Asian descent, Harinder Takhar.
From the get-go, there have been clear front-runners, some wild cards and one self-described "dark horse."  A couple of candidates that were not given much consideration at the outset have run campaigns that demand attention.  Nobody following the race questions any of the candidates' commitment to win - unless that candidate is Takhar.
Why is this?  Like all the other candidates, Takhar had to raise funds and collect names to earn a seat at the table.  He's also gone to the trouble of fleshing out policy ideas and is out there now, pressing the flesh, sharing his ideas and listening to those of others - just like all the other candidates.  That's a lot of effort if you're really just vying to be the next Minister of Finance. 
Having spent some time around politics and worked on a few campaigns over the years, I can't believe that anyone would do any of this unless they were seriously trying to win - especially if they've been through the process before.  Politics isn't an occupation, it's a lifestyle; you do it because you're driven to.
So - if Takhar truly is running to win, why are people doubting him?  Nobody has suggested that any of the other lesser-known candidates are just looking to play king/queen-maker.  The answer, I think, is as predictable as it is uncomfortable.  Just as most of us will automatically think "he" when someone is talking about a doctor or "she" if they're discussing a teacher, we all have something of a preconceived notion of what a leader should "look" like.  It's s bit like labeling a peach-coloured crayon "skin-tone"; we don't often stop to think outside our personal boxes until we are challenged to do so. 
Not that long ago, few of the candidates in the running would have been taken seriously by the majority of voters.  Times have changed and will continue to change, but it still takes trailblazers to increase our opportunities by demonstrating what is possible.
By seriously running a serious campaign, Takhar is just such a trailblazer.  However well he does in his bid to be leader, Takhar is opening the door for future generations of potential Premiers from across the ethno-cultural spectrum, helping them maximize their personal potential by expanding the opportunities available to them and providing a role model.  As our current Premier once said, it shouldn't matter "where you come from, but what you find along the way."
The more trailblazers like Takhar can broaden our perception of what a leader can look like, the closer we get to a point where we really aren't subconsciously judging candidates on the colour of their skin, their gender, religion or sexual preference, but by the content of their character, the power of their vision and their ability to inspire others to follow where they lead.
There are seven individuals running to become the next Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier. 
May the best person win. 

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