Toronto Liberals are facing a major dilemma over whether or not to support Olivia Chow, the popular and controversial NDP MP, in her campaign for mayor.
I find this whole exercise fascinating.
Political people, many of whom make a living setting agendas and pushing narratives through advocacy/Government Relations work, are always getting their knickers in a bunch over which candidate to support for leader.
They should know better. In fact, they do know better. Look at where Rob Ford is at right now - he's Mayor, but has been sidelined by Council. He's only got one vote - it's not the fact that he's Mayor, but his ability to build coalitions around issues that could set him above.
The Prime Minister is just that - first among equals. If it weren't for the tough, Machiavellian manipulations of the back-office teams PMs or Premiers put in place, that primacy would actually function the way it was intended to, with agendas needing the confidence of individual Members of the House to gain traction.
We have a reality where the inner court of leaders are to an increasing degree reinforcing the notion that The Leader Is Always Right - the buck stops with them, yet when something goes wrong it's always someone else who goes under the bus.
Sadly, we've got some leaders that have actually started taking this sycophanthy to heart; Stephen Harper truly believe he can do no wrong. Rob Ford actually believes he's the best Mayor since Salvor Hardin. These sorts of leaders are increasingly demanding unquestioning loyalty and falling in to the Imperial Trap:
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality... We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
When you feel holding office means that you are the only legitimate voice, the only rightful decision maker, we have a problem.
The backroom operators who look to play King maker don't really believe that any one leader is the infallible, though that's the image they will try to present when they pick their horse. Often for them, it's the ability to pull the strings of an unquestioned leader that motivates them.
These sorts of mandarins are insisting that the leader is right in all things, that loyalty is owed by the Party faithful to the leader without question and that, as the leader is of such importance, it would be selfish of volunteers to expect any of their time. One does not expect God to appear before them, nor question the divine plan; one's role is to pay, pray and spread the word without question.
In the mix may be a desire to have a leader who shares their vision, but frankly, if more attention was spent educating voters on the issues and working to engage people to a higher degree, it would matter less who was in charge; the people would know what they want and be able to contextualize it. They'd also be capable of justifying their demands through evidence-based arguments and feel confident in bringing their voice forward.
Which, after all, is how our democracy is supposed to work.
Instead we have increasingly powerful leaders supported by increasingly manipulative power-brokers creating niche-solutions for core constituencies while the majority of Canadians increasingly wash their hands of the whole affair. Loyalty has ceased to be for the cause, has migrated through The Party and is now being walled up inside the PMO or the Party Office.
Politics isn't supposed to be about beating the opposition; it's supposed to be about winning the support of the people.
It's time our leaders - all of them - start being a bit more cautious about the tailors they surround themselves with and a bit more critical of their own opinions and the choices they make. Through social media and citizen journalism, the veil of secrecy they used to wrap themselves in is becoming transparent and the people don't like what they see.
Open Government couldn't be coming at a better time.