Leadership is not about debating policies, chairing meetings, or cutting ribbons. While these are certainly tasks that a leader may do, the undertaking of these tasks does not a leader make. What qualifies someone as a leader is his or her ability to lead. This may sound obvious, but I would posit that this concept is lost on many of our elected officials.
Napoleon Bonaparte was quoted as saying that, “A leader is a dealer in hope”. Essentially, therefore, a leader is someone that is able to inspire people to follow a stated vision with the hope for collective benefit. A leader is the champion of the cause, the purveyor of the vision, the leader of the charge. A leader inspires the fervent engagement of people in the realization of a goal.
Contrast this definition of leadership with the ‘leadership’ demonstrated by our current municipal government.
Instead of boldly inspiring Hamilton to engagement, City Hall perpetually seems to be either circling the wagons in damage-control mode or flailing wildly in a spastic knee-jerk reaction mode. Consider the reckless attempt by Peggy Chapman to muzzle independent journalism and the abnormally frequent in camera meetings by council. Recall the sudden and chaotic dissolution of the HECFI board, and the subsequent formation of an unqualified new board made up of city councillors. Take for example the unilateral decision by City Manager Chris Murray to strip resources from the study of light rail transit after council had unanimously endorsed it. Remember the failure of our previous city council to stand up to Bob Young and his ‘small retail operation’ in the infamous stadium fiasco. Each of these recent examples exude the same reactionary decision making, the same defeatist attitude and the same administrative drivel that has left Hamilton in its current distressed state.
Hamilton needs leadership. Truly valiant and inspiring leadership. While there may be a thousand points of light across this city—examples of individuals, organizations and companies demonstrating true leadership—we must see true leadership from our City Hall.
Hamiltonians need leadership that will break the current cycle of failure, and inspire all of us to see and realize a strong, ambitious vision for our city. Hamiltonians need leadership that offers us genuine hope.