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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.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

A Gerard Kennedy Story (2)

Political campaigns are full of little stories both positive and negative that never make the news. These random encounters or tactical choices offer windows into the characters of the candidates and their teams. Here's one from Team GK:

About a year ago, I got an invite from a friend to attend a Gerard Kennedy fundraiser. Normally, those sorts of events are way out of my price range, but this one was different - instead of a ticket price, the money would be raised by selling prints of Gerard's portrait of Lester B. Pearson. There was a recommended ticket price but the attendees were free to donate what they felt appropriate. While my donation was far less than some of the other folk in the room, I appreciated the opportunity to participate.


It wasn't until I got to the event that it became clear how much he had  accomplished. By building an inclusive price-model, Gerard was raising funds (there were big donors in the room) but also creating an opportunity for people like me to get involved.  Using the portrait as an anchor, Gerard had an opportunity to talk about something that mattered to him – the arts and, more broadly, expression. 


The thought that went into maximizing the potential of this event was impressive; planning matters.  What made the night really stand out for me, though, was something else entirely.


Gerard Kennedy is well-liked and well-respected, so there was a good crowd.  Among them was an elderly gentleman; whether it was the crowd or the hour, part way through the evening he became light-headed and started to wobble.  There was a slow ripple of reaction from those near him, but it was the host’s voice that brought everyone to attention.  Before most of us knew anything had happened, Gerard was at the microphone, asking if there was a doctor or anyone with medical experience in the room.


He didn’t stop there.  While the majority of guests stood, uncertain what to do, Gerard did what he does best by jumping in to action and addressing the problem at hand.  With the assistance of a few of his former staff, Gerard got the man, now too feint even to stand, water and some towels to use as a pillow.  At the same time, other former staff of Gerard’s had been tasked to call 911 and canvass the crowd for medical expertise, which was found.  Once they had a chance to assess the man, Gerard asked these doctors if there was anything they didn’t have that would help.  It was a remarkably astute question, one that I would not have thought of asking.  It was one that Gerard’s various life experiences had taught him to ask and that he has consistently applied in his political life – how can I help you find the tools you need to succeed?


Since Gerard acted swiftly and comprehensively, the event was able to continue and the man’s health and privacy were both respected.  It was a remarkably effective bit of leadership.


This story came to mind today while reading an article about another remarkable man who has dedicated his life to helping others – Eric Hoskins.  Both are individuals of integrity who lead by example.


Which is exactly the kind of leader Ontario deserves.

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