Choosing Our Leaders

Canada held a federal election on June 28, 2004. Let's look at it from a head-hunter's point of view.

First of all, how are the candidates chosen at the level of each riding? The aspiring candidate gets a lot of new people to join the party just before the nominations so that they can vote for her. But since most of the population is politically apathetic these are usually know-nothings who just do what they've been told.

We recently saw a bitter battle for the candidacy of the Liberal Party in Hamilton, Ontario. One of the contestants, Shiela Copps, a former cabinet minister, bragged that she conducted her membership drive in 19 languages.

That's an impressive effort to reach out to new Canadians but if they can't speak English one has to wonder how well-informed the new party members actually are. More likely than not, they belong to the apolitical family and social networks of an ambitious community representative to whom the aspiring candidate had made some sort of promise.

In democratic politics the public is the employer. So, from our point of view, what happens is that the candidate gets a headhunter who has shares in the company to market her to the other decision-makers. The odd thing is though that when it comes to the business, most of the share-holders don't know and don't care.

So, the company is virtually non-existent until the headhunter staffs it with people from another of his concerns. Then he convinces / tells them that what he wants is in their best interests and they make robotic decisions to hire his girl.

When the election is actually called, the prime candidates are the leaders of the various parties. For most of the campaign each leader stages an endless round of photo ops and sound-bites. In an interview, if a candidate doesn't want to answer a question he just answers it with a prepared sound-bite that belongs to another question. It's called "staying on message". If a bold interviewer asks the question again the candidate gets indignant and says "I've already answered that. Let's move on." And, of course, he's smiling the whole time.

I heard a reporter suggest that the leaders travel from town to town and debate the issues night after night. At the end of the month everyone would know what they stood for. Instead, there's only one debate (in each of our two languages). And what happens during the debate? Why, it's a free-for-all in which each candidate's main objective is to talk over the other candidates so he can deliver his pre-fabbed sound-bite. It's so darn noisy you can't understand a thing.

Actually, I'd love to see this used as a means of hiring in business. Wouldn't that be funny to have three candidates for "Instructional Designer: Privacy and Security" come in and yell at eachother? I look foward to the day.

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