Typically, an 80% means an “A” on your report card, unless of course you’ve just won a leadership race – then it means, simply, that you’ve won by a landslide. Sunday, April 14, 2013, Justin Trudeau took home an ‘A’ on his initial progress report – making him the new leader of the liberal party.
The question is – will a landslide be enough to unite a party plagued by internal strife? Will it change Canada? I suppose it depends on how closely the party takes to heart the words of its new leader – which landed the largest applause during his acceptance speech:
“Canadians turned away from us – because we turned away from them. Because liberals became more focused on fighting with each other than fighting for Canadians. I don’t care if you thought my father was great or arrogant… it doesn’t matter to me… The era of hyphenated liberals ends right here right now, tonight.”
But the thing that Canadians should take away most from Trudeau’s speech, though accompanied by a much smaller applause, are the words that also carry the most potential for greatness – and it has nothing to do with Harper or the Conservatives being fearful, but with the state of mind of Canadians themselves:
It is not my leadership that Mr. Harper and his party fear – it is yours. There is nothing these Conservatives fear more than an engaged and informed Canadian citizen.
It is true as Trudeau says – that Canada is blessed with active citizens who are willing to stand their ground. But standing with a true knowledge and understanding of what is really happening in politics, public policy and government – is rare among many of us. The proof is in voter turnout.
Putting Trudeau’s reference to fearful conservatives aside, government always works best when Canadians are both informed and engaged. That said, what needs to change most are Canadians themselves.
Yes, politicians do have a responsibility in part to engage the people… But ask around – ask your friends, family, co-workers about who their current premier is; about which level of government – federal or provincial, is responsible for the environment, health and industry – or who the MP for their riding is… many simply will not know. Even more will not care enough to find out – until, of course, there is a problem.
For now there is no ‘A’ in sight for Canadians. Perhaps a new leader will be the catalyst to change that – but it is not something that can be done alone.
– Nancy Duffy