Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions at a COVID-19 briefing at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Saturday, May 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rick Madonik - POOL

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions at a COVID-19 briefing at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Saturday, May 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rick Madonik - POOL

COLUMN: Calming voices of leadership

During a time of crisis, leaders set the tone for the public

It would be hard to find two present Canadian leaders with less in common than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

The two represent different political parties and different —sometimes opposing — ideologies. And when it comes to presenting themselves, the two are nothing alike.

But now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, both have demonstrated an important leadership quality.

They have each stepped forward and delivered calming messages, time and again. And by doing so, they have both provided a sense of reassurance.

Their COVID-19 briefings have not been defined by political positioning, but rather by updates and announcements, presented in a way to give hope and reassurance to the public.

READ ALSO: Trudeau says COVID-19 curve is beginning to flatten; more PPE on the way for provinces

READ ALSO: Canada to do millionth COVID-19 test but numbers still falling short

Watching these briefings and updates, I’ve gained a new respect and admiration for both.

This level of respect is not about their party affiliations or platforms. Instead, it’s the result of seeing and appreciating two examples of grace under pressure, from two leaders who have little in common.

In British Columbia, the province’s messages have tended to come from health minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Bonnie Henry.

Their messages, delivered almost daily, are calm and factual, never panicked.

Similarly, I have been watching as Summerland Mayor Toni Boot has presented regular updates to the community during this time, speaking calmly even though there is still much uncertainty about the pandemic.

And Spencer Coyne, the mayor of Princeton, has worked to bring messages of reassurance to his community.

Boot and Coyne have different styles and approaches, but both of have been working to present a calm tone during a difficult time.

There are similar stories from around our province, across the country and around the world.

Leaders at all levels are delivering some important messages to the people.

This is the mark of leadership in a time of crisis.

It is worth noting that neither Trudeau nor Ford has been universally supported.

In the last federal election, Trudeau’s Liberals received the support of just one-third of those who voted. And in Ontario, Ford’s conservatives received the support of two out of five voters.

But this is a time of crisis, and when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, party platforms become meaningless.

This is the time when people need to know what will happen to them, in the short term and in the long term.

This is the time when they need to know the decision-makers are listening to them and are acting in their best interests.

And this is the time when the public needs to know there is competent leadership at the helm, providing reasoned and sensible solutions.

READ ALSO: Compared to U.S., Canada’s COVID-19 response a case study in political civility

Without a calm and consistent message, it would be easy for the country to slip into chaos during this time. The consistent messages, from leaders at all levels, could be part of the reason the Canadian statistics from the COVID-19 pandemic are far less tragic than in some other parts of the world.

The vast majority of Canadians are working to follow the directives during this pandemic, and the occasional rallies to end the restrictions have been poorly attended.

Watching these examples of leadership has had me think once again about some the people we elect.

Traditionally, election campaigns have been ideological battles, where platforms are presented and considered.

British Columbia voters will not go to the polls this year, but we have a provincial election scheduled for October 2021, a municipal election in October 2022 and a federal election in 2023.

During those elections, one of my considerations will be which candidate can deliver calm leadership in a time of crisis.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ColumnistCoronaviruspolitics

Just Posted

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

North Westside residents can dispose of their unwanted bulky items between June 30 and July 14, 2021. (File photo)
North Westside residents can soon get rid of unwanted bulky items

Large household items can be disposed of at North Westside Transfer Station June 30 to July 14

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Gord with a mom and her young son outside Pathways which was defunded on May 31. (Facebook)
Gord Portman with a mom and her child outside of Pathways. The sign says it all about the difference Pathways has made in people’s lives. They were defunded by Interior Health on May 31.
Penticton man takes the plunge for the recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read