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Federally Fed Up

Terry O'Flynn.

With just days left before the federal election, our politicians are becoming extra attentive to everyone’s desires, carefully sculpting their campaign platforms and promises to accommodate as many voter demographics as strategically possible… which amounts to buying votes in their own ridings. Again, with big issues dividing our provinces, the election stage has turned into a boxing ring – and I couldn’t be more disappointed.

As tensions over the complex dynamics of intergovernmental disputes create deeper divisions, an increasing number of Canadians are becoming skeptical of our ability to resolve internal differences, and many are even beginning to question the benefits of confederation. This divisiveness will continue to aggravate tensions as we approach what could be the most negative, mud-slinging Canadian election of all time.

But it’s not the divisiveness that is the problem. In a country this size, there are going to be polarizing issues on all sides. It’s the complete unwillingness of our leaders to deal with those issues that is the big frustration.

The lack of leadership coming from Ottawa is utterly appalling. Incumbents are yelling about the hot button topics (Climate change! Saving jobs!) but are not backing their cries for reform with any discernable long-term action. Sure, it’s sexy to peacock in front of the camera while slapping down sanctions and frowning in the general direction of China when they refuse to accept our crops, but how about actually finding markets for the products our manufacturers can no longer sell in other countries? What a concept!

Canada is a team. The provinces are the players. Each is unique, as they should be because that means each province has something to bring to the field. The Prime Minister is the coach. Globally, nations are watching our inter-squad game.

The coach and team members must appreciate the individual strengths with one goal in mind: to make the team as successful as possible. Leadership is exhibited by strategizing and utilizing the strengths within the team, prioritizing, and leveraging all these skills together. A good coach is hands on, actively handling issues, standing up for the team, and fostering respect amongst the players – getting everyone to pull in the same direction despite differences in the locker room. The players may not always like the plays, but they should respect the coach and overall game plan. Other nations see the strength of the team and say, “yeah I want a part of that action.”

A bad coach only pays attention to the players that support his or her bid for a second season of coaching. This coach is more concerned about their image and the angle of the press’ cameras. Complicated issues are met with catchy jargon and complete inaction. The only strategy to make the team look good is to bash any opposition from the other coaches, leading to division amongst the players. Other nations see this weakness and invest their interests elsewhere. Who wants to buy a ticket to watch a hot mess?

I have a strong message for our “leaders,” (a term I’m using very loosely). That message is: put on your big boy pants and do your job. Lead; put your team – Canada! – first. It’s not all about you. We’re embarrassed on the world stage right now and we’re sick of it.

This election, my vote is going to the leader that will actually work for the interests of a strong and united Canada. Too bad it’s painfully unclear which party that is going to be.