In 2005 my sister and I were in Ottawa and had the opportunity to visit Parliament. We joined a tour with English and French speaking Canadians and visitors from other countries. As we reached the chambers, Stephen Harper was exiting with five or so staffers. He walked through us, staring ahead as if we didn’t exist while his staff nodded sheepishly, some adding a quiet “Hello.”
It was the most blatent and arrogant snub I have ever observed in my now 73 years. Everyone was stunned and made a number of comments. He seems to be continuing this behaviour, having learned nothing in six years of power. I resolved then to get to know somewhat any persons seeking election and have made many efforts in that direction.
When Michael Ignatieff and his wife Zsuzanna first came to P.E.I. I made a point to be there. They were warm and open and seemed very aware of our world. Travelling does that. I know because I travelled as a Canadian, and lived through elections in England, Africa and the U.S.A. where voting for me was not an option.
At that first Ignatief visit, Zsuzanna made a personal comment and I made a small suggestion which she appreciated and from that we became friends and have since exchanged notes and letters. The grace and intelligence they expressed at that and other visits and the affection they have for each other says a lot regarding the man. Awareness and decency towards others is not something that is learned. It comes from inside.
In any leader, this awareness results in being valued and loved by the people being represented in that country and in the world and helps them to be successful in their endeavours.
Every new prime minister or president has to learn the ropes from scratch. There is no practice time and no detailed handbooks to cover every eventuality, and pleasing everyone is simply impossible, but politics is not just about business, it is about people.
So, who would I rather have as a leader tackling the needs and issues of my country, a man who does not value others enough to even acknowledge their existance and does not seem to work well with others, or a man who has travelled and experienced the world as it is, the poverty, the warring, the differences and the similarities and wants to work with others? I rest my case.
Patricia A. Brooke