EDITORIAL – A true leader knows when to disagree with a crowd

An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

TRUMP-STYLE politics was bound to come to Canada, at least in a small way.

At a rally in front of the Alberta Legislature on the weekend, federal Conservative leadership candidate Chris Alexander was criticizing Premier Rachel Notley when the right-wing crowd started chanting “lock her up!”

Chris Alexander at rally.
Chris Alexander at rally.

Alexander stood smiling during the chant, and did nothing to discourage them.

Shame on him.

His belated assurances that he disagreed with the chant and did not participate in it aren’t convincing. “I was smiling because I was trying to think of a way to change the chant.”

Well, if that was really the case, Alexander is a poor choice for a party leader and potential prime minister. Leaders are supposed to think on their feet, and shushing crowds that get out of line is all in a day’s work.

There are numerous other examples of appropriate reactions, for example U.S. Senator John McCain defending Barack Obama as “a decent person” against a racist supporter during a campaign rally in the 2008 presidential campaign.

And there was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chastising some of his supporters for heckling a reporter during last year’s election campaign.

“Hey! We have respect for journalists in this country,” Trudeau told them. “They ask tough questions and they’re supposed to. OK?”

Contrast that with the U.S. president-elect’s frequent and continuing insults to what he calls “the crooked media.”

And then there’s Alexander and the crowd who used his rally speech as an excuse to use another one of Trump’s favourite lines, which he aimed an opponent Hillary Clinton countless times during his own election campaign. “Lock her up!” the Trump faithful would roar in reference to Clinton’s email indiscretions.

Alexander says it isn’t up to him to tell a crowd how to behave. Fortunately, many are criticizing Alexander’s handling of the situation, including many within his own party, and other provincial and federal leaders.

Alexander may think it’s not a leader’s responsibility to tell a crowd when it’s misbehaving, but it is.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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3 comments

  1. Absolutely right on. He was all over CBC mealy-mouthing platitudes that did nothing to get at the core of the issue:his compliance and inaction.

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