Leadership means standing up during the good and bad times

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ThinkTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – It has been eight days since flood waters shut down Thunder Bay’s sewage treatment plant, and flooded basements and streets in our city, and washed out roads across the region. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has, until today, been silent when it comes to making a public statement on the situation.

Now to be fair to Dalton McGuinty, the Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has been just as silent as the Premier. The Prime Minister has yet to step up either.

Provincial officials have been working with administration from the city. It isn’t as if the province has been missing in action. Our two MPPs have been offering help too.

But leadership starts at the top, and for the people in Thunder Bay, the Premier has been missing in action.

A leader should have stepped up right away. A leader might even has shown up to make sure everything possible was being done. Chances are if the same level of damage would have happened in Toronto, Dalton McGuinty would have been front and centre.

The silence is a demonstration of Dalton McGuinty’s personal style in many ways. When the going gets really hard, the usual process is to hunker down and wait it out. Keeping one’s head down when things require leadership and being all over the spotlight when bringing good news or cutting ribbons is not real leadership.

The depth of the importance of the issue of Thunder Bay on the Premier’s radar screen was obvious during Question Period today in Queen’s Park. The Premier explained how he had talked to Mayor Hobbs and that there were some issues with a water treatment plant.

“The mayor placed a great deal of emphasis on a particular water treatment plant that represents a real challenge for them financially. I can say that we will continue to work hand in hand with the community to ensure that they get the support that they need,” said McGuinty.

The real issue in Thunder Bay is there is a real emergency.

Here is what a real leader would have said early on in the crisis:

“Northwestern Ontario was hit with a horrific rainstorm at the end of May. That storm flooded homes in Thunder Bay, and washed out roads in the region. That record rainfall has put The City of Thunder Bay in a state of emergency.

The sewage treatment plant has been knocked out of commission. Hundreds of homes were flooded.

The work of countless volunteers, firefighters, police and government officials are starting to make a difference turning this tragedy around as quickly as possible.

I want to thank, on behalf of all Ontarians, those people in Thunder Bay who are rallying behind their friends and neighbours.

I want to assure them that the people of Ontario and the Government of Ontario are standing behind them and will be there to help.

If you want to help, right now you can make a donation to the flood relief efforts. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are both accepting donations.

Once again, thank you to all those who are working so hard to bring the flooding situation to the fastest recovery possible.”

That kind of a statement from the Premier of Ontario would have gone a long way to re-assuring. It would have been positive to heard from the Opposition leader Tim Hudak too.

Instead the people of Thunder Bay were treated to the silent treatment except from Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats.

A few words from the Premier might not fix things but part of leadership is being with the people when they are in hard times.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer