I saw a cartoon in a newspaper recently that depicted, in a humorous way, the leadership style of the current prime minister. He is seen holding a shotgun in the air directed at carrier pigeons bearing notes from provincial premiers, expressing their demands.
Leadership style is important if you think of the troubling styles of other leaders in the news, some regarded as authoritarian, who push through their agenda despite significant opposition, or who curtail freedoms. These leaders seem out of touch with the electorate or the public mood but also possibly quite isolated and disconnected despite the power they wield.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has wielded power for seven years, first in minority government and since 2011 as a majority government. Clearly he has been successful as a politician and as a strategist. He obviously has remarkable political instincts and clearly understands the political process as few leaders have. If it comes to holding onto power and pursuing a conservative agenda it is clear he has been up to the task. Yet the cartoon image somehow continues to resonates with me. I see other carrier pigeons bearing notes from aboriginal people and environmentalists and see the cartoon morphing into a High Noon, gunslinger image as the prime minister attempts to tame the west with the mandate of his criminal justice legislation.
And I wonder how much willful or intended ignorance went into scrapping the long census form or reinterpreting crime statistics?
Some have seen Mr. Harper as a 21st century Machiavelli, the medieval prince, who dug deep into explaining how to wield power without ethical constraints. And yet I am told he has an ongoing church affiliation, which suggests a vision beyond political ego.
The next two years until the next federal election will be interesting. Who said politics was superficial and only skin deep?