Medicine Hat News
Is Premier Kenney more Churchill or more Trump?
Premier Kenney often speaks of his great admiration for Winston Churchill but I fear he thinks and acts too much like Donald Trump. The manner in which he has dealt with COVID does not look much like Churchill. He seems challenged to demonstrate compassion, humility, acknowledgement of error and the ability to adjust when necessary. Great leaders in times of crises intuitively exhibit these qualities.
Mr. Churchill’s leadership failures prior to becoming Prime Minister, like his defeat at Gallipoli, would not have made him an historical icon of leadership. His time came when Hitler became his nemesis. Hitler made Churchill. He recognized that the U.K. needed to act early and decisively to stop Hitler.
He set aside his partisan style of hammering and instead built a coalition government of Conservatives and Labour. By so doing he united political leaders and most importantly ignited the passion and spirit of the British people and gave them a sense of solidarity to “... fight on the beaches and the fields and streets and hills and ...never surrender.” Churchill had the ability to adapt.
COVID 19 was Mr. Kenney’s Adolph Hitler opportunity to demonstrate leadership. As the COVID 19 plague crept across the globe, first Asia then Europe, it was his opportunity to act early and show the steel of leadership. He knew COVID was coming but seemed to see the threat as a minor distraction and was befuddled by it.
He seems unable to adjust his style from his hammering on health-care professionals, Ottawa, unions and the Official Opposition. Any contrarian opinions are responded to with the hammer rhetoric of ‘Alberta Bashing.’
He appears unable or unwilling to accept any personal responsibility. He has been unsuccessful at igniting and uniting the minds and hearts of Albertans and indeed Canadians. He seems to have had the opposite effect.
Clearly COVID is historic in proportion to past events faced by earlier Alberta premiers. Peter Lougheed’s leadership strength was his ability to articulate a vision of a new age of opportunity for Alberta that ignited the ambitions of Albertans.
The event that highlighted Rachel Notley’s ability to lead was the Fort Mac Fire. From the very beginning she appeared side by side with the professionals and did not leave public servants alone at the podium. She was the leader of a team. That fire was a catastrophic event that no one could have ever imagined. It captured the attention of Albertans and the world.
She reached out to the then Official Opposition Leader Brian Jean, whose home sadly was lost in that very fire. Her steady, focused and compassionate leadership brought Albertans together and instilled confidence. She impressed even her harshest critics. No resemblance to Trump and a lot like Churchill.
Time will tell if Premier Kenney can get past the doubt and divisiveness that now clouds Albertans’ confidence in his leadership. Too much Trump and not enough Churchill? The irony is that both Trump and Churchill were not re-elected.
Bob Wanner Medicine Hat