When the Argos won the Grey Cup this year, and the players were interviewed after the game, there were some very common refrains from: “we came together as a team” & “we all gave it everything we had” & “we stood by each other” & “we all love each other” & “the Coach brought us together as a team.” Notice a theme developing here?
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
In 2018, we will have an important decision to make. We will need to select a group of Leaders for our City. After a long period of tremendous controversy, from former Mayor Susan Fennell’s troubled administrations to the current fractured council, there is a feeling that this City needs a steady had to take the proverbial wheel.
“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”
How did a City so rich in natural beauty with boundless potential come to this? Really, why all the fighting?
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower
In my humble opinion, the people of Brampton are looking for answers on how to make life better, and how to make life more affordable. All our local debates, seen through this lens, actually to start to make a lot more sense. When you really boil our recent controversies down to these questions, you start to see why the city is so divided along political lines.
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
Suburban sprawl: how do we make room without taking up space? Transit: how can we get where we are going faster and cheaper without walking? University: how can we bring it closer to home to reduce costs? Employment: how can we work closer to home so we don’t commute longer hours than we work? Recreation: how do live active healthy lives, in the time we have, without boring old treadmills? Services: how do we make sure people are receiving information and programs are being delivered to those who actually need it? Taxes: how do we ensure that taxes are fair to those paying their fair share, and ensure the money is not just being wasted?
“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.”
These are all problems that our city faces. But they are all just aspects of the challenge to living well, and living affordably. Affordable housing. Affordable transportation. Affordable recreation. If everyone in town was making $300K a year, you wouldn’t hear about many of the problems I listed above. We would all just happily throw money at the problems until they disappeared. So how do we generate “don’t care about it” levels of wealth in our City?
“Leadership is difficult but it is not complex.”
We are told, and have been told for a very long time, and keep being told, that a magic bean can be planted in the Four Corners, and a “Downtown” will grow and flourish and provide all the jobs and enable affordable living. We have spent more than $500 Million on these various magic beans; and soon, we will find out what a University Bean tastes like too. Has it worked? No. So far, all we have accomplished is bean fatigue, with the latest one (an LRT to Port Credit) practically tearing the City apart.
“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”
It’s time to stop with all the magic beans (I’m sorry … Game Changers) and start to do the hard dirty work that lay ahead of us. The first priority has to be Healing the Divide created by the legacy of our troubled city council.
“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”
Healing a divided City will take a group of leaders. Real Leaders. The kind you read about on posters with pictures of eagles and lakes on them. People who are willing to listen (not dictate and expect obedience); work with all of council (not just their own clique); work with and for the entire City (not just certain groups with a history of campaign contributions); who will work in the open (not behind closed doors); will empower those around them (not undermine people and decisions); will praise accomplishments (not throw people under the bus); be fair, reasonable and be truly open about who they meet and what is discussed (not meet in secret with Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers, or developers, or vendors). Long gone should be the days of any member of council doing nothing on a file, then grandstanding for the few days leading up to a Provincial or Federal announcement they were given a quiet head’s up about behind the scenes. These behaviours, especially, need to stop. Be it transit, health care, affordable housing, all of it.
“Community must be rooted in values that do not fail, values that go beyond the self-aggrandizement of human leaders.”
Come May, the best birthday present you could give me will be to consider the “track record of team play and leadership” of those who put their names on the ballot. Ask yourself if you would want to be on an actual team with them. Are they “ball hogs”? Do they “pass” the ball when someone else is open? Do they lay personal blame for defeat and take personal credit for victory, despite it being a Team Game? We’ve all been on teams with people like that. Be it a sports team, a project team at work, or even just at a family BBQ. Think about who actually deserves to wear the “C” before you vote.
“Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.”
We need a Leadership team that brings a high level of Team Work and Intelligence to the Council Chambers. The solemn duty of running Brampton may be a “Game” to some, but personally, I don’t want to win a Game, I want to win a Championship.