Chad Storlie had just started his deployment in Iraq with the U.S. Army Reserve Special Forces.
Bunkered down in a looted building with wires hanging out everywhere, his unit was ferociously planning for missions and sand bagging to help its security unit in the relentless Baghdad heat.
About 10 hours into a 20-hour day, his Brigade Sergeant Major stopped in to check on the unit. How were they? Did they have enough water? How could he help?
“I was deeply impressed by the Sergeant Major’s leadership by example and his personal conviction,” Storlie wrote in his book Combat Leader to Corporate Leader: 20 Lessons to Advance Your Civilian Career. “Leadership by example was his way to demonstrate to us how we needed to care for the people in our unit.”
Unfortunately, at least in Canada’s political landscape, those who lead by example seem to be the exception rather than the norm.
Storlie can count his blessings that he didn’t serve under someone like Rod Phillips. The Ontario finance minister resigned after returning from a two-week vacation in St. Barts, where he had been since Dec. 13. He also posted a video on Twitter that led people to believe he was at home drinking egg nog by the fireplace in Ontario on Christmas Eve, even though he was already in the Caribbean.
This, in a province where police are cracking down on “unsanctioned tobogganing” (I can’t believe that’s actually a thing) and charging young men who were caught doing the unthinkable – playing a game of pick-up hockey outside with their friends.
Tracy Allard would also be a terrible Sergeant Major. Allard, Alberta’s municipal affairs minister, had been vacationing in Hawaii since Dec. 19, and was in Hawaii at the time she posted a video of herself in front of a Christmas tree in the Alberta Legislature Building.
Seven other politicians in Alberta were either forced to resign or lost responsibilities for travelling during the pandemic.
All this in a province where a mother postponed a Make-A-Wish trip for her nine-year-old sick son.
In Manitoba, Conservative Senate Leader Don Plett is quarantining after travelling to Mexico on Dec. 28. The NDP stripped MP Niki Ashton from her cabinet critic roles after she travelled to visit her sick grandmother in Greece.
In Saskatchewan, MLA Joe Hargrave revealed he was visiting California to finalize the sale of his home in Palm Springs.
In Quebec, Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade asked Member of the National Assembly Pierre Arcand and his wife to return home right away after they were spotted vacationing in Barbados. And CAQ MNA Youri Chassin is also facing criticism after the Canadian Press reported he was visiting his husband in Peru.
This, in a province where a video (see below) shows police trying to bust down a family’s front door because they suspected there were too many people inside. There were six people inside.
Il faut que ça devienne viral. RT en masse les amis. La lumière doit être fait sur cet événement. pic.twitter.com/nnxsGcQcOn
— Nusakan le récalcitrant (@Nusakan007) January 1, 2021
The list of political pandemic travellers goes on and on – and it continues to grow – from across the country. That is, except from our province. Thankfully, our B.C. politicians seem to have acted responsibly and stayed home, save for a few municipal councillors.
The others are, quite simply, hypocrites who have no business leading people whatsoever, especially during a crisis. They don’t seem to know how foolish it is to ask others to follow a rule or standard when they don’t do it themselves. Because most people will do what you do, not what you say, it’s no wonder that a new survey suggests nearly half of Canadians visited with family or friends over the winter holiday period.
As any military veteran like Chad Storlie would know, most organizations are a reflection of their leader. A good leader can create a good unit and a bad leader will create a bad unit.
As Storlie says, people are always watching their leaders, especially in the military. As a role model, the best way to get others to set high standards for themselves is to set high standards for yourself.
It seems some of our politicians should spend some time learning about leadership in the military – especially now that their schedules are all clear.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Surrey Now-Leader. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org