Romney win in Iowa offers a lesson for Ontario political leaders

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Mitt RomneyTHUNDER BAY – In Iowa the likely Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney squeaked out a win in the party caucuses last night. The GOP hopeful spent enough money in Iowa to stimulate the economy in his bid for the White House. That voters rewarded Romney with a 15 vote win, speaks to an issue that might have its place here in Ontario. The Progressive Conservatives were leading in the polls all the way up to the start of the provincial election campaign. Last spring the lead that Tim Hudak held was large enough that most people had written off Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals.

The Romney win in Iowa offers a lesson for Ontario political leaders. That lesson is that playing it safe is not a way to really win.

Last spring, one person who remained convinced that the Liberals would win was Dalton McGuinty. Speaking at Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro’s nomination meeting, the Premier told the audience that the Liberals would win the election. Dalton McGuinty honestly believed that, and you could tell it from how he explained it to the audience.

Likely many in the sold out audience didn’t believe him.

Likely Dalton McGuinty saw that Tim Hudak was going to play it safe, and try to coast to a majority.

One of the keys to McGuinty’s win was Tim Hudak.

Looking at his lead in the polls, the PCs and Tim Hudak probably started to believe they had won. They started playing it safe. Walking out of media interviews, the goal was “well we got through that one”. It wasn’t hitting the ball out of the park.

There was likely a fear that if the PC leader were to speak out some of his real goals, it might be seen as striking out.

Tim Hudak, the Ontario PC leader should be taking time to watch Mitt Romney.

Romney is doing exactly what Hudak did through the spring and summer and into the election campaign last fall.

Romney is playing it safe.

He is not outlining the bold change that America needs.

Some are already calling Romney a “cardboard cutout” character. Likely that is why despite spending so much money, and attacking the opponent the Romney camp perceived as a threat, Newt Gingrich, the win was so small.

Romney is seeing that it is probably certain that he will end up the Republican nominee for President. However by playing it safe he is also most assuredly handing the election to President Obama.

The task for leaders is not to play it safe.

The role of leadership is to outline bold directions and share them with the people, and seek their support.

With Ontario in a minority government, chances are the next Premier of Ontario will be the leader who outlines brave, bold and exciting new visions for our province and for Canada.

Ontario has been a traditional leader in Canada, but over the past decades, our province has become less a leader and more of an introspective place. Ontario has, to a degree become far too Toronto-centric.

For all three major parties in Ontario, the goal in 2012 should be to start taking steps toward having Ontario honestly take back our role as Canada’s leading economic power.

Ontario to really move forward needs bold and innovative ideas. They are out there, the problem is they won’t be found by playing it safe.

James Murray

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