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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.

Monday 15 April 2013

Justin Trudeau's Challenge

Justin Trudeau believes hope has a fighting chance.  So many Canadians want to believe the same thing, but faith has fallen from their vocabulary.  It's a strictly competitive world out there - you eat what you kill and when resources are tight, you get ahead at the expense of, not together with, your fellow Canadians.  That's the dynamic hard-wired into our political discourse.

Beyond that, we have an increasingly laissez-faire economy; employers are holding back on hiring and businesses are engaging less and less with new consultants and new ideas.  Nobody has faith things are going to get better and are therefore hesitant to engage with anyone or anything that doesn't come with a full-proof guarantee.

As a result, countless people across the country are giving up on the job-hunt; when CV after CV gets submitted but no responses come back, motivation becomes a consuming challenge.  These people are being told they need to be mobile in our economy, to sell their homes, say goodbye to their friends, pick up their kids and go to where the work is. 

They are being told this by well-moneyed individuals like Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty who have access not only to a wealth of personal resources, but public ones as well.  Understandably, people who have done nothing but work hard and follow the rules feel disinclined to make huge personal sacrifices to appease the whims of the entitled.  The resulting gulf between people, government and industry is swallowing up the opportunity for innovation in this country.

The people finding success are hyper competitive types who have little time for anyone who doesn't operate the way they do.  These people break the world down into three categories; those who are opponents, those who are opportunities and those who don't matter.  They're not interested in bridges - instead, the world to them is a series of stepping stones, a pyramid to be climbed.  As market focus becomes increasingly narrow, more and more people are falling into the last category.  The growing pressure on this expanding, unsupported base is causing it to crumble.  A pyramid built on an unstable base cannot stand.

Then, there are those social entrepreneurs with big hearts and fresh ideas, seeking to be the hope they want to see in the world.  They have largely given up on politics as a platform for change and instead are doing things themselves - slowly, painfully from the grassroots level up, often at enormous personal cost.  These entrepreneurs aren't rich, but they have wealth in their lives the likes of which the 1% can't begin to fathom - for they have chosen to live in the world, not above it. 

It isn't for naught these social entrepreneurs have given up on the politics of those at the top; at all levels of government and despite the growing sense of desperation across the country, political operatives continue to put Party success ahead of the public good.  The focus of political machinery is on how to target Canadians, how to convert Canadians, but not how to engage Canadians.  That process is always seen as too time-consuming; the Return on Investment for doing the right thing takes too long to realize.

This, then, is Trudeau's challenge - to simultaneously survive in the blood-sport that is politics without succumbing to the cynical attack-and-defend mentality that has corrupted our system.  When the attacks keep coming fast and furious, how do you build and maintain a strong brand without responding in kind - without abandoning hope yourself?

Ontario's Kathleen Wynne is attempting to do this right now - she has impressed many with her proactive, pro-social and unrelentingly positive approach, but her opposition hasn't changed their tune.  They're still thinking about the next election and about how to grow their market share of voters - everything else, including policy, must inform their selfish gain.  If it doesn't, it's discarded.  If and when a provincial election is called, how Wynne does will determine whether politics continues the trend towards positive engagement or circles the wagons even tighter.

To both Trudeau and Wynne I say be strong; be the rocks on which the hope of Canadians can anchor, be the stones in our national soup.  If you want to be leaders, you don't have the luxury of wavering in your convictions.  You are not a person filling a role - you are a symbol for the people.  Your opponents want you to waver - they want the excuse to justify their tactics by saying hope is nothing but a fool's dream.  Don't give it to them.

If you hold true to your purpose, something unexpected will happen; by fully letting go of the methodology of a Stephen Harper or a Tim Hudak or even a Thomas Mulcair, other avenues will reveal themselves to you.  Everything the opposition throws your way, every attack you endure or challenge you face will by conscious alchemy become an opportunity to improve.  For this approach to work you must truly and fully walk the walk - you'll need to be constantly on top of every piece of information that materializes and connect the dots between them. 

Every single person you engage must be seen as part of the big picture and kept part of the conversation.  You'll have to be quick, creative and unrelenting encouraging.  Don't wait for opportunities to come to you and then wait for someone else to prove they work - be the spark that lights our souls on fire.

Then, instead of responding in kind to the Opposition, you can dare them to do better.

That's the leadership we secretly long for, but are afraid to believe in.

Justin Trudeau, justify the faith people have placed in you - make us believe again.

It's a lot of pressure, certainly, but you don't need to do it alone; after all, we all know what the trick to moving forward is.


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