I was a member of the Air Cadets for over a decade. A big part of the cadet and military service is learning about leadership. As I recall, leadership was defined as motivating others to do what you want them to do.
As I’ve grown in my professional career, I’ve learned to have a more nuanced view of leadership. Often leaders mistake leadership for managing behaviour. I think the Peter Drucker quote sums it up best “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Leadership in the context of politics has unfortunately become more about winning than it is about doing what is right and what is best for constituents or for the jurisdiction you represent. Identity politics, and division have infected politics as “leaders” grasp for ideas and vision that will motivate voters. Unfortunately, history shows that fear is often one of the most effective motivating factors.
Yesterday in Virginia a massive Nazi (I’m not going to call them White Nationalists, that’s too kind of a euphemism) rally was held. Emboldened by the rhetoric of a dangerous desperate leader in the White House, these events are becoming more common, more visible, and more violent. It’s absolutely devastating that the country that ended their isolationist policy to help defeat the Nazi’s is now the catalyst country for a resurgent Nazi movement.
But, there’s a Canadian connection here.
The Rebel Media, the so called alt-right provocateur website dispatched one of their reporters, Faith Goldy, not to cover, but to advocate for those taking part in the rally. To promote Nazis. The hashtag/phrase Unite the Right is literally being co-opted and used in the US by this movement. And further, another prominent Rebel, Gavin McInnes (yes, the one who posted about 10 things he hated about the m*ther f*cking Jews) is helping to plan further events for these Nazis.
Doug Schweitzer, one of the UCP leadership candidates took a stand yesterday. Did what was right, and called out the Rebel Media:
— Doug Schweitzer (@doug_schweitzer) August 12, 2017
Schweitzer also called on Jason Kenney and Brian Jean to do the same. Jean almost got there. He was right to denounce the actions of the White supremacists. But he stopped short of calling out the Rebel, who he has had a fairly cozy relationship with at times in the past.
White supremacists have no place in our society. I echo my colleague @doug_schweitzer in condemning what is happening in Charlottesville.
— Brian Jean (@BrianJeanAB) August 12, 2017
I would have liked to see Jean go a step further and do exactly what Schweitzer did, in calling out the Rebel.
But here’s all we got from Kenney. A RT of Senator John McCain.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 12, 2017
I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative, but I could never support the silence on the important social issues that are now coming to a head in the North American conservative movements. That’s why I’ve joined a centrist party and why I largely remain agnostic federally.
If Alberta is going to avoid the road towards American style division, resurgent white supremacy, and dangerous activism masked as free speech, we need leadership. The type that does what is right, not what is easy, or politically beneficial.
While Schweitzer is not the first politician to speak out and denounce the Rebel (now NDP MLA and former PC Leadership contestant Sandra Jansen was family chased from the Party for standing up against their hate), he’s the only current Albertan conservative leadership candidate to do so. And I have huge respect for that.
Kenney and Jean may be prepared to lead a party, but their actions thus far don’t show me that they’re ready to lead a Province, for all of its people. Their statements yesterday try to toe the line between placating racist/Nazi sympathizers and those appalled by the actions in Charlottesville yesterday. And in today’s environment we need better. There is no left and right here. Only right and wrong.
*This post was updated to reflect the stand Sandra Jansen took against Rebel Media during her time in the PC Party and leadership race*
Follow me on Twitter