If Leadership Puts a Man’s Life at Risk, Dave Hancock Should Live Forever
On Saturday night, Martha and I went to see The Mountaintop at Theatre Calgary. It runs until April 20. It was a full house on Saturday and we have season’s tickets, so I don’t know about ticket availability, but if you can get them, go! It is an imagining of the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life before he was shot by an assassin in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. It is a one-act play, performed by a cast of two: Kevin Hanchard as Martin Luther King, and Beryl Bain as Camae. Both gave magnificent performances.
I was a few months’ shy of my fifteenth birthday when Martin Luther King was gunned down, and a couple months closer when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Their lives and deaths and, indeed, the times in which they lived and died shaped me as I was growing up. Not only did they encourage me to pursue a career in journalism so that I could help tell the stories of impressive people and profound events. Their lives and their times also instilled a yearning for the better world of which they dreamed, of which they spoke, and for which they worked and ultimately gave their lives.
Their lives and times also instilled a lingering skepticism of those who zealously maintain the status quo.
Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were both leaders for their time. That is to say, they were able to articulate a vision and inspire people to get behind the idea. They showed people a vision of humankind’s better nature and higher purpose. In so doing, they inspired us to believe in ourselves and in our own potential to make a difference — individually, in small groups, and in mass movements. It may be that, as much as showing us their promised land, they were actually reflecting back to us our own shared longing for change, defined and described in such a way as to inspire us to act.
Let’s fast-forward 46 years.
Between then and now, there have been plenty of leaders who have articulated visions and inspired people to get behind their ideas. Some were more effective than others. Each made some people feel threatened — I think that’s a pretty key marker, because leadership involves change and risk and setting out on a journey to a destination as yet unseen. Pierre Trudeau. Peter Lougheed. Margaret Thatcher. Brian Mulroney. Bill Clinton. Preston Manning. Ralph Klein. Barack Obama. It’s a long list, and there are many more names I could add.
But not Dave Hancock.
I invite you to read Don Braid’s column in the Herald, which makes the point rather well that since the crew of the Good Ship Tory invited Captain Alison Redford to walk the plank and installed Hancock as the replacement skipper, he’s been staying the course, justifying, lawyerly splitting hairs to argue that black is white, refusing to apologize for Redford’s spending controversies, saying and doing nothing to distance his premiership — interim though it is — from Redford’s excesses and even proclaiming, and this is a quote: “It’s not my place to critique the past.”
As Braid rightly points out, Cap’n Dave is on the bridge only because caucus put him there, and since caucus discontent was a major reason for the previous captain’s demise, his steadfast refusal to admit anything was, is, or could possibly be wrong could be, er, career-limiting.
Look, nobody’s expecting Dave Hancock’s approach to the job of interim premier to be pregnant with celestial fire. He’s just the place-holder, the seat-warmer, the fill-in guy. Assuming somebody actually ponies up the courage and the $50K entry fee to run for the job — and eighteen days since Redford’s departure, nobody has — Hancock’s turn in the chair will be done in September. It’s not up to Hancock to take the government in a new policy direction. But it is his job to lead for now, within the constraints of his interimship. Dave Hancock’s hyper partisan refusal to admit or acknowledge the failings of his predecessor and her administration amounts to a defence of Redford, and ironically, will do the PC Party even more harm.
The way I see it, the more zealous the defenders of the status quo, the more things need to change.