Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, J.D.
Queen's Canadian Leadership Conference 2009
For example, about 20 years ago, someone was referred by a respected member of the Polish-Canadian community. After hearing his story, I decided to help and it became a long battle with officialdom, including: the Immigration, Justice and Solicitor General departments, CSIS and successive ministers of Immigration. Thanks to a series of tough minded volunteer lawyers and very determined staff in my office, Ryzard and Ella Paszkowski became Canadian citizens and are now doing well. The text of a book I wrote about the case with the assistance of these staff, Betrayal, The Spy Canada Abandoned, is on my website.
MPs are better judges than party whips about issues in their ridings. It is electors who send MPs to Ottawa. In the case of the GST bill, for example, several thousand constituents indicated in various ways their opposition to the proposed new tax. As a one-time tax lawyer, I was then (1990) personally convinced that it was not an efficient way to raise tax revenues. In the end, Dr. Alex Kindy and I voted against the GST bill and were immediately expelled by Brian Mulroney from the parliamentary Conservative caucus. In the ensuing election, only two Progressive Conservatives were elected across Canada; I was returned in the same riding as a Liberal. Many years later, I resigned from Paul Martin's Liberal caucus, having lost confidence in his leadership. I learned in short: don't abandon your principles and your voters even if it means leaving a political party-or two.
Sound principles give leaders the ability to maintain the trust, respect and support of stakeholders, whether voters, fellow students, work colleagues, customers or whomever.
Here are some suggestions:
There are also numerous examples of leadership and public service in business. I would like to refer to one who particularly inspired me. The late John Poole and his brother were the majority owners of Poole Construction Ltd. (now PCL Construction). When John Poole retired as CEO of the company, the two of them sold their majority stake to the employees rather than accept the highest offer. In the ensuing three decades, John Poole and his wife gave tens of millions of dollars to a host of cultural, educational, social and environmental institutions. When Poole died two years ago, columnist Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal noted, "( Poole) believed that every (person) owed a duty to his fellow citizens. He understood that living in a city isn't just about occupying space--it's about participating in the life of a community. It's about taking responsibility for the future."
At a time when financial resources are shrinking, our communities will require even more help, particularly for their more vulnerable members. Leaders should set examples for us in giving their time, resources and energies to our communities.
Maintain inclusive culture
Mistakes Leaders Make
I define a leader as someone who does a lot more than the minimum every day and who wants to make a positive difference as often as possible. In the pursuit of principles and vision, however, it is easy to make mistakes. Has Fizel has written an interesting book describing ten errors leaders make and I've certainly made them all. Here are three important ones: