Lessons in Leadership from a Red Tory

Are there any Red Tories left in Alberta?

If so they should consider what Kim Campbell has to say about leadership and apply her comments to the men vying for the leadership of the UCP.

Kim Campbell was Canada’s 19th Prime Minister.  A few short months after being sworn in as PM she had “political retirement thrust upon [her] by the Canadian electorate.”*

Campbell picked herself up, dusted herself off and went to work in academia and with organizations working to strengthen democracy and improve the role of women in leadership.

She reappeared on Alberta’s radar screen in 2014 when she was appointed the founding principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College (PLLC) at the University of Alberta.


Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell

Campbell describes herself as a Red Tory without a party, but her comments about leadership are helpful to anyone who wants to lead a political party regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

The “dot” theory

Campbell says a leader is like a dot inside a small circle.  They can’t go beyond the circle without risking alienating their followers.

The circle surrounding UCP leaders is much smaller than the circle surrounding the NDP, the Liberals and the Alberta Party because, with the exception of Doug Schweitzer, UCP leadership candidates prefer to stay silent on social issues like minority rights and LGBTQ issues.  The UCP circle will stay small unless the men hoping to lead the party (and the province) have the courage to push the boundaries.

Case in point:  the UCP was told it could not march in Calgary’s Pride Parade because it lacked a clear policy supporting gender and sexual diversity.

The UCP Interim Joint Board shifted into damage control mode and passed a resolution affirming the UCP’s support for the LBGTQ community.

This was a bizarre move given the Interim Board’s limited mandate (it appears to have the power to make administrative decisions, not policy ones) and the fact the resolution was passed “on behalf of just the board” (ie the 12 individuals, whoever they are, who sit on the board) not on behalf of the party.

UCP leadership candidates have not commented on the Interim Board’s resolution.  There is no indication that any of them, except perhaps Schweitzer, would support the resolution at the UCP policy convention next spring (assuming it gets that far).

If the UCP leadership candidates want to show support for Calgary Pride all they have to do is show up on the sidewalk on parade day and wave a rainbow flag.

It’s not rocket science…but it requires leadership to demonstrate empathy and step outside the circle.

Leadership qualities

Can leaders be taught how to lead?

Kim Campbell says yes.  The Peter Lougheed Leadership College teaches students the importance of diversity in developing good leadership skills by assigning them to working groups that are “designed for conflict”.  This exposes them to people not like themselves and they become better leaders as a result.

A “designed for conflict” learning opportunity recently fell into the lap of UCP leadership candidate, Jason Kenney.  Kenney is well known for his stance on outing students who join gay-straight alliances in schools and his reluctance to discuss “social issues” in general.

k. d. lang offered Kenney a chance to expand his understanding of LBGTQ issues by promising him tickets to her concert if he’d sit down and talk with her. He refused. He was too busy.

The fact that this self-styled “servant leader” turned down an opportunity to learn from one of Alberta’s most famous LBGTQ advocates speaks volumes about Kenney’s leadership qualities (or lack thereof) and his ability to represent all Albertans if he becomes premier some day.

The fact that none of the other UCP leadership candidates volunteered to take Kenney’s place and share what they would have learned from k. d. lang with their caucus and supporters is even more mind boggling.

One final lesson

Campbell says it’s critical for politicians to learn to respect others, to acknowledge differences and find common ground.

She asks: how will you ever change the world if you refuse to go outside your envelop?

One hopes Red Tories are asking their UCP leadership candidates this question…and are prepared to walk away if they don’t get a satisfactory answer.

*This quote and other comments attributed to Kim Campbell come from her key note address at the ATA Summit Aug 2017

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38 Responses to Lessons in Leadership from a Red Tory

  1. Ed Henderson says:

    Quote…””Kim Campbell says yes. The Peter Lougheed Leadership College teaches students the importance of diversity in developing good leadership skills by assigning them to working groups that are “designed for conflict”. This exposes them to people not like themselves and they become better leaders as a result.””
    I’d like to see some education that exposes the voters to the “real” side of politicians so that voters could make better decisions when voting. Many politicians have done nothing but be politicians, associate only with other politicians and have absolutely no empathy for non politicians.
    Jason Kenney would likely be one of these politicians as would J Trudeau.

    • Ed this is an excellent suggestion. It would be helpful if high school socials studies and history classes included a nitty gritty overview of what makes politicians tick. This review should include how how the pursuit of power on the part of governments and corporations (empire/colonialism) operate often not in the best interests of the people. Also individual members of the public can do their own research by getting to know their local MLA or MP, showing up at their town hall meetings and in their constituency offices and following what they do in the media and in Hansard. Most important, the public needs to educate itself on what’s important and ask politicians what they’re going about it.
      A politician friend of mine said it’s all about “light and heat”. Shine a “light” on the issues and turn up the “heat” on the politicians to make sure the issues are dealt with.

  2. J.E. Molnar says:

    Preaching “big tent” inclusion while pandering to a red meat base doesn’t exactly sound like a winning strategy for success for Jason Kenney or any other UCP leadership candidate. His big tent narrative sounds like it now includes only those with red shoes and red noses — not a clear, coherent articulation and belief that others outside the circle are legitimate stakeholders in Alberta’s evolving cultural and economic melting pot.

    The UCP’s newfound infatuation with Pride seemed to be more geared to achieving cheap, unearned political points. I’ll believe their sincerity when they deliver within the entire party, and LGBTQ policies are overwhelmingly adopted at the founding UCP convention. Until then, this was all just political grandstanding by an old party with a new name.

    • J.E. I agree with you on all the points you’ve raised. It’s interesting to see that the only UCP leadership candidate who has dared to call out Kenney’s who-needs-policies leadership campaign is Doug Schweitzer. The irony of Kenney’s decision to run for the leadership without revealing any of his policies (other than the same old “no taxes” meme) is that Kim Campbell was clobbered in the 1993 election because she said “an election is no time to discuss serious issues”. That position, plus the fact she was was trying to repair the damage inflicted by Brian Mulroney, put her in a real box. And now 24 years later, it’s perfectly fine for a conservative’s conservative to not only refuse to discuss serious issues, but run with no policies at all. This speaks volumes about the electorate…and it’s not good.

  3. Munroe Scott says:

    Thank you Susan. As an Easterner I find your insight into the UCP very interesting. And I like Kim Campbell’s “dot in a circle” analogy. As for Ms Campbell, I felt she was fed to the wolves although I was delighted to see that Tory downfall.

    • Thanks Munroe, as an Easterner you must find Albertans a bit bizarre (especially those who consider the equalization formula a personal affront). Will Ferguson in his book Bastards and Boneheads discusses Canadian PMs and puts them into the bastard or bonehead category. He says Mulroney destroyed the federal Conservatives and left Campbell holding the bag–which contained an annual deficit of more than $35 billion, an unemployment rate of over 11% and a $500 billion national debt. As far as Ferguson is concerned Campbell took a bullet for Mulroney and for that he says she’s a bonehead. He characterizes Mulroney as both a bastard and a bonehead, but ultimately places Mulroney into the bonehead category because of all the damage he inflicted on Canada.

  4. Einar Davison says:

    I continually call myself a “Red Tory” and a “Blue Liberal”. I have never been an NDP but equally I have never been a right winger conservative either. I think Albertans opinions can waver all over the place depending on the issue. For instance in my own case I don’t necessarily agree that we should start removing statues of our forefathers because they did wrong. In some ways it seems we are judging 18th and 19th century leaders by 21st century values that did not exist at the time. Many would disagree with that, but we all do wrong and really to be fair we would need to condemn virtually all people from those periods because they all held similar values and belief.

    At the end of the day I believe all Albertans want a government that works, that is fair and respectful of all people regardless of who they are or what they do or believe in. Government doesn’t work for everyone 100% of the time, but when we need it, government should be there. After all they are suppose to work for us! Finally government should continually fight for equality of all (the very foundation of what I believe Pride represents, equality for all with no buts). Forgive me if I’m wrong.

    To me it seems that sometimes politicians appear at Pride parades to check off boxes to show they are “with it”. You’re right Susan if they “really wanted to show support for Calgary Pride all they have to do is show up on the sidewalk on parade day and wave a rainbow flag.” I truly hope for the day when “equality for all” really exists. I don’t believe the UCP and I absolutely believe they do not represent ALL the values that Peter Lougheed governed with. However Peter Lougheed was the right man for that time and we need leaders who are right for this time. I don’t believe Jason Kenney, or Brian Jean or anyone else running for the UCP are the right men (and where are the women?). I applaud PC MLA Richard Starke for sticking to his principles if only to show he is staying with the party he was elected with (which none of the others have). We need to get the Legislature back to values of honour, dignity, service and equality to and for all. MLA’s shouldn’t be self serving but serving to those who elected them. Maybe we need to change how the legislature works, maybe make it more like municipal government where there is much more accountability. Once again Susan you really pick great topics that really get one thinking.

    • Einar, you raise a lot of interesting points here. Let me pick up on your comment at the end in which you said “maybe we need to change how the legislature works, maybe make it more like municipal government where there is much more accountability”. I think you’re on to something. Our MLAs would better represent their constituents if they actually tried to work together to formulate policy and pass legislation (and yes, I know that sounds naive, but the theatrics of one side, then the other, trying to score points in Question Period is getting really tiresome). I believe that’s what the proportional representation movement is all about. I can’t understand why it’s so difficult to pull off here when it seems to be working in other jurisdictions. We seem to swing from majority governments that steamroller everything through regardless of what the other side has to say and minority governments that sell their souls to the fringe party in order to hold on to power for a couple of months. Nothing gets done and then boom, the whole thing falls apart and we’re back into an election with each party destroying the opposition in the hopes of winning a majority. The primary driver is lust for power, not accountability to the electorate.

      • Einar Davison says:

        I worry that if we go to proportional representation, the winning party gets to pick who will represent my area (or others) and I think that just puts one more wall in the way of who we are represented by. My other fear is that you get stuck with minority governments where nothing gets done. That is why I like the municipal model as people run for a ward or an area without a party attachment, there is more accountability and hopefully more of our MLA’s would work together for the betterment of the province as opposed to as you rightly put it the theatrics of the Leg. Of course no city council is perfect, there are still personalities, but a political parties warchest doesn’t insure bad representation doesn’t continue. I believe Nunavuit is run this way. I’m not sure why we couldn’t run the province like we run our municipalities. You’d still have a Premier, popularly elected by all Albertans and why couldn’t we have MLA’s work on committees and elect a chair. Maybe the Treasurer would be the Treasury Board Chair. I think we want the same things Susan. I’d give anything to try it for four years and see if it worked better than what we have.

        By the way in regards to my comments about John A. Senator Murray Sinclair is awesome!
        It annoys me to no end when I hear people say “we are on the historical lands of Treaty # 7” It sounds like a platitude. I want to see signs saying “You are entering the historical lands of the Blackfoot confederacy”. I’d like to see just as many statues of Louis Riel, Chief Poundmaker, Crowfoot. We shouldn’t hide the past, we should learn from it and build a better country for all Canadians regardless of who they are, what they believe in, who they love, whot they worship or even where they have come from. Sorry for the longwinded rant!

      • jerrymacgp says:

        Remember, though, many very large municipalities actually have party politics; for instance, two of Canada’s three largest cities have parties of one sort or another. Parties are essential for organizing political thought and action in very populous jurisdictions. Nunavut & the NWT can make consensus-based politics work because they are tiny polities spread about vast territories. The Yukon, however, has a party system, as does tiny PEI.

  5. Ernie S. says:

    Red Tories are what ruined the PC party. Trying to appeal to a different base alienated true conservatives and trying to pay off the unions with big $ for labor peace further alienated the base. Red Tories belong with the Liberals!

    • Ernie, you may be right about Red Tories belonging with the Liberals. It will be interesting to see where Alberta’s Red Tories end up. They’ve got a number of choices, Alberta Party, Liberals or NDP, one place they won’t go is with the UCP.

      • Roy R. says:

        And the UCP is better for it: a united, principled, true conservative party.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Well I would agree with you that it is a Conservative Party. As far as the United we have to wait and see. Principled?!? Well that is arguable and judging by the last few happenings it seems to be the same as usual. Financial responsibility for us (the people) and winner gets all for them.(the takers) – Derek was the first example and then suddenly the party of the financial managers is in debt 300 thousand dollars. I think this is exactly the way they will govern the province once they take over. Of course you have a completely different opinion but that is why we exchange ideas, although I have to confess that lately I have basically given up on discussions because very few people really take it seriously enough to make it worth it. Actually this blog is one of the few places I feel comfortable expressing my views.

  6. Carlos Beca says:

    Although I agree with you that Kim Campbell is a capable person I do not share the very positive image you have of her. They lost the election and rightly so. The Conservative Party had built the NAFTA agreement that brought a lot of growth but to the pockets of a few. Most of these trade agreements are nothing but the free movement of capital without taxes for the big corporations.
    Kim Campbell his a Red Tory now because the Conservative Party is ridiculously extreme right. I do not remember her being that red at the time and I for one was extremely happy to see her go. Furthermore she may have very good leadership skills but I agree with Ed Henderson that that is not what we need right now. The whole political class is in need of much more than that.
    Another point I enjoyed reading by Einar is this new statue removal. We are now embracing the ‘History Hygiene Process’ which is a typical characteristic of non democratic societies like in ‘Communist Regimes’. This is ridiculous. If we failed in our history, the last thing we need is to deny it. We, like all other countries in the world, made mistakes and it is not by hiding them that we become better citizens. Furthermore, it is absolutely absurd to expect a Prime Minister like Sir John A Macdonald to have predicted that one day his colonial ideas were going to be wrong. OMG who are these self righteous people that now want to take the name of our first prime minister from schools. If that is the case remove them all because it was only in 1997 that the Residential Schools ended and none of them stopped it. Justin Trudeau is full of hot air and has done very little to fix even potable water in Indian reserves. He is selling weapons to the Saudi regime and on and on and on. All of them have done something that sooner or later is going to be considered repugnant, if not already.

  7. carlosbeca says:

    Question – How many prime ministers before Justin Trudeau approved of equality for gays?
    Check to see when even gay videos or books were allowed in Canada. So everyone in parliament until recently were anti gays and as a consequence anti equality. Hmmm take their names off the schools please.
    How many protected Indian rights? Hmmm again a bit of a problem here.
    How many Japanese Canadians were sent to camps? Hmmm problem again.
    How many Indian women were murdered without protection? Hmmm another problem.
    How many people are now refugees because of our interference in the Middle East? Hmmm another problem

    This list can be quite long so maybe we should not have a History available to those who care to know it because there are constant wrongs and they do not have to go back to our first prime minister.

    • Einar Davison says:

      Hear Hear Carlos, Truth and Reconciliation comes from not only telling the truth, but learning from the mistakes we have made in the past and truly desiring to do better. Good points Carlos!

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Thank you for raising this issue. It is as important to me as it seems to be to you.
        Yes the Truth and Reconciliation is what you describe, unfortunately like most of what Justin Trudeau has done so far, it seems another half commission to just get out there the propaganda that he cares. Empty balloons.

    • Carlos and Einar, I’ve been trying to come to terms with the arguments for and against removing statues, etc. Recently I read a simple analysis by a Yale professor who suggested we ask ourselves two questions before we decide to pull a statue down: (1) what did that person achieve or stand for and (2) were his social views aligned with the times in which he lived. In Robert E Lee’s case the answer to (1) is he led the charge to cede from the USA in order to preserve slavery and (2) his support of slavery was consistent with the views of the southern states but not consistent with the views of the northern states (it should be noted that politicians in the northern states didn’t agree on what to do with freed slaves, send them away, give them the vote, or do something in between). The Robert E Lee statue would come down because (1) is not a noble cause and (2) is not aligned with the progressive moral views of northerners. Applying that rationale to John A MacDonald would cause us to leave his statues alone because (1) he was the father of Confederation–a unifier and (2) his views on Canada’s First Nations were consistent with the times. Obviously the decision would be complex and vary from case to case, but the Yale analysis is a good place to start.

      • Einar Davison says:

        I’ll leave US Statues to the Americans, we have enough of our own crosses to bear. However would I leave a statue of Hitler up, of course not (I’d hope that the Germans would do what many did and tear them down themselves0, however would I tear down tombstones in a German military cemetery absolutely not, even though technically they are monuments too and many of those cemeteries have SS buried in them. Gosh this is a difficult subject but am very glad we are discussing it. Again I think I will refer to the wisdom of Senator Sinclair for Canada and hope that other countries have someone as wise as he is.

  8. Roy R. says:

    What about people who believe that homosexuality (the act, not the person) is wrong? Do they not have rights? Tolerance goes both ways.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Of course they do and there are millions of them except that they do not have the right to impose their belief on others the same way that gays do not have to impose theirs. To me as long as they do not affect others lives they are fine. What you are forgetting is that these people forced gays to go to jail if caught. That is the difference and that is where equality comes in.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Re: Roy’s “tolerance goes both ways” duckspeak

      Sure it does Roy, but it is hardly hypocritical of the ‘tolerant’ to find it justifiably difficult to tolerate the unjustifiably intolerant.

      • Roy R, in addition to the arguments raised by Carlos and GoinFawr, freedom from discrimination on the basis of homosexuality is protected by the Charter (a statute passed by a duly elected government) and by the courts (judges who are appointed by a duly elected government). The government reflects the will of the majority. Even Harper refused to backtrack on this issue.
        I know you didn’t raise the issue of gay marriage but let me talk about that a bit as an example of why I find these conversations so bewildering. A few years ago the George Bush Jr government proposed a Constitutional Amendment in order to pass a statute called the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The underlying rationale was that the institution of marriage needed to be protected. What Bush Jr missed was the fact it’s too late to save the sanctity of marriage. Half of all marriages end in divorce and one-third of the people living together aren’t married. DOMA was proposed for a reason but the reason wasn’t to protect marriage, it was to make gay lives more miserable.

      • Roy R. says:

        Freedom of religion is also a guaranteed constitutional right. Again, tolerance goes both ways and not just what may be colloquially popular.

  9. ronmac says:

    Kenny was probably worried KD Lang would be demanding an answer to the question she asked him a few weeks back via twitter. (are you gay) so maybe e was trying to avoid a potential “controversey” among his base.

    At this point, people would be more shocked if Kenny “came out” and admitted he once read a biography of Tommy Douglas

    • Carlos Beca says:

      🙂 I love it

    • Ronmac, I suspect Kenney wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of a bazillion selfies of him with KD Lang zipping around social media either. Good heavens, what would his supporters think?

    • Ernie S. says:

      Tommy Douglas, the ardent eugenics supporter?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        🙂 Just like George Bush and Donald Trump

      • GoinFawr says:

        It is true Mr.Douglas got his masters on the strength of his paper on eugenics, but then he visited It Germany circa 1935, and after what he saw there spent his whole political life NOT “supporting eugenics”…
        IE do you have any actual examples of CCF legislation (there are 17 consecutive, surplus budgeted, years of it) ‘supporting’ your claim, or are you just being disingenuous by omitting Mr.Douglas’ clear, and “ardent” lifelong disavowal of his master’s thesis.

        Hunh, actions speak louder than words, after all, hey?

  10. Carlos Beca says:

    If I may I will comment on all the messages I read and that I would like to something about:

    1) Yes Mulroney inflicted tremendous damage to Canada, left the Conservative Party with 2 seats after the following election and today parades in the National and International political scene as an important figure in Canadian politics. He even offers his own views as if anyone with a brain cares. Amazing really. No doubts we need great changes and they are happening.

    2) Susan I agree with what you call the Yale analysis but not 100% and I tell you why – the same people that want to take the statues down also want to eliminate them from our history. I have seen this done in other countries. I agree with taking the statue down based on your example but not the history. I could provide examples but this is a bit of a complex issue and I prefer to leave for now. We may choose to go back to it sometime in the future.

    3) I absolutely agree with you on the Defense of Marriage Act. The last thing we need is a bachelor telling us married people what is good for us. Any institution with almost 50% failure rate on the first marriage and apparently 64% on the second really needs to be protected 🙂 – I would suggest putting it on the Endangered Species List. Maybe once in there we will take a serious look at it.

    4) Einar I have to disagree with your comment on Proportional Representation. First PR does not have to be by lists which is used in many countries. It is done with constituency representatives like for example the system in New Zealand. Once all the constituencies elect their representatives, they adjust the number of MLAs according to proportion of votes. So for example in our case where the Green Party received 7% of the votes and only has one MP in parliament they would have to get and extra 23 MPs from party lists to make up the fact that 7% of 350 is around 24 seats. The system is not perfect but it is way more representative of the real voter’s choice. In terms of policies it does change a lot because having one MP or 24 is quite different in terms of outcomes and discussion. Furthermore I do not agree that it brings many minority governments. What it does bring is coalition governments which in many ways can accomplish way more than one party majority governments and inflict way less damage in the case when these majorities are radical like in the case of the UCP becoming government in the next election. I do also like your suggestion and I think it would be better than what we have and possibly even better than PR but I think that no party in our political system is interested at all in anything but power and control. They all have all the answers. Others of course are stupid. This is destroying our possibilities because it is quite obvious that confrontation will never resolve the tremendous issues we are facing.

    I cannot stop thinking of a possibility of Jason Kenney and KD Lang on television trading ‘how are yous’

    • Roy R. says:

      Remember it was k.d. lang who tried to “out” Kenney. How “tolerant” is that?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        oh well Roy I think that we are wasting our time with details that are not relevant to the conversation and to the real issue of homosexuality. You are talking about someone trying to put Jason Kenney on the spot versus people in some cases being murdered for being gay. The real issue is whether or not people are equal in our society and that in this case they have the same rights regardless of their sexuality. We are not discussing whether KD Lang is or is not more tolerant than Jason Kenney. The fact is that Jason Kenney does not clearly say whether or not he accepts gays as he accepts any other person in our society. People that do not respect others have to face the law in case they act against them and that is the real issue. Other than debating that real issue the conversation starts sounding like playschool.

  11. Einar and Carlos: you two are right, the statues discussion is a complex one and you make interesting points. I will give it more thought.

    I wanted to pick up on a point Einar made about hearing “we are on the historical lands of Treaty # 7” at the start of any public event. I agree with him, it feels like nothing more than an empty platitude. So much more needs to happen to reset that relationship. The federal government is moving much too slowly to deliver on the promises it made in Truth and Reconciliation Commission (hopefully Trudeau’s decision to split the indigenous affairs portfolio into the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the Ministry of Crown/Indigenous Relations & Northern Affairs will help).
    Eleven of the 94 TRC promises relate to education. The ATA is engaged in a 3 year Education for Reconciliation project to ensure students learn the history, culture and world views of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit. Six indigenous teachers did the research with elders, created educational materials and are putting on workshops to train teachers from every school in the province. This program could have tremendous impact. Here’s the link: https://www.teachers.ab.ca/For%20Members/Professional%20Development/Walking-Together/Pages/Index.aspx
    NOTE: Jason Kenney’s complains that the curriculum update focuses too much on our colonial past. I really hope the Education for Reconciliation project isn’t the kind of thing he’d chop if he managed to become premier one day.

    Carlos, I saw your comment that this blog is one of the few places you feel comfortable voicing your opinion. Timothy Snyder in his little book On Tyranny urges everyone to “stand out”, to set an example and break the status quo, otherwise we risk losing our freedom. So please continue to speak out here and everywhere. All of us need to continue to state our opinions (respectfully) and even if we don’t agree we will learn from each other.

  12. Erin says:

    What a great conversation here! It’s wonderful to read and gather insight from such rational and learned citizens. Thank you all for your thoughts, and your links!

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