Hi, this is Chris W.
Interesting week in the Province of Ontario, to say the least.
Though not in the traditional sense of the term, the focus of my commentary this week is the three political leaders in the province in an attempt to better understand why there is such stark divides in the Canadian Confederation.
Generally speaking, Ontario is considered the “old world” of the Canada Confederation.
But as I write this, I find it significant that there are any Ontario political leaders at all.
And I don’t refer to at least one Ontario leader that I personally support, but rather the three ones I have studied through the research that I do as a Canadian Political Science Ph.D student at Brock University.
I happen to know and/or have met the three leaders at least three different times over the last year and a half, which is more than any other Ontario political leader I have interviewed so far, according to the dozens of names I’ve been able to acquire.
We have seen an era of trust, as well as trust has been a problem for the three leadership candidates.
Recently, the Ontario Leadership Network released some information about the three leaders so far in their campaigns to become Premier of Ontario.
Leader: Andrea Horwath
Response rate in Toronto-St. Paul’s Liberal-held riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s: 38 percent
Leader: John Fraser
Response rate in Bay Area Liberal-held riding of Sarnia-Lambton: 60 percent
Leader: Doug Ford
Response rate in Halton Regional Municipality-Independent-held riding of Ajax: 64 percent
Of course, a comparison between the three leaders’ communities is not an exact science, but it does provide some direction for how the candidates would govern.
Granted, the leaders of the three communities vary greatly.
Yet, in following a trend of trust, the three candidates would not take the same direction given their responses.
All the leaders placed a premium on local knowledge of the community and an ability to understand how the community impacts their leadership style.
For example, how do you react to a house fire? How do you tackle mental health, with the understanding that there are human factors involved? How do you balance on a tough call on education or the environment?
Obviously, these are good questions to ask the three leaders, and they would most likely provide valid responses.
Yet, most of these questions are more complicated and require knowledge and expertise to answer.
So while the candidates all ranked the importance of making good decisions, few of them placed a premium on trust.
There were very few great answers on that score.
While leader Doug Ford described himself as a “strong leader”, he did not rank trust at the top of the list.
The dynamics are very much analogous to many American political debates, with mistrust, distrust of the media, lack of trust in government, and distrust of the elites.
I think it is very hard to have an effective negotiation when trust is absent.
None of the leadership candidates show a clear way to create trust in the people they represent.
Certainly, trust with and for the individual leader is a key part of any successful negotiation.
But all of the leadership candidates are way out of step on trust, with none approaching it in a compelling or positive way.
While there were differences among the three candidates, none of them approached this problem with any degree of confidence.
And that is not a good thing when dealing with tough issues like mental health, climate change, housing, and trust.
Which Ontario political leader can meet the moment?