"Own it", were my husband's words to our sons during their formative years. "Accept the responsibility, accept the repercussions, and learn the lesson." A dear friend directed his children with, "No matter how deep the shit you get into, come to me, we will deal with it. But never, never lie to me. If you do, you are on your own." As a real estate brokerage owner and then real estate course teacher, I preached ad nauseum, "Admit your mistake, remediate the consequences of your error, and never lie about it - not to the Real Estate Council of Ontario, not to the Toronto Real Estate Board and never to your clients."
I now find myself questioning what planet our politicians have been beamed in from. What was their upbringing? What exactly are their values? More importantly, what kind of example are they setting for our youth?
"I have not used crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen and does not exist." Ford's delayed, long overdue statement was made well over a week after the original allegations by Gawker and the Toronto Star, after numerous internal staff resignations, after repeated requests by his executive council desperate to have the situation addressed and after it became obvious that voters demanded it. "Where there is smoke, there is fire", was the old adage professed by my Father. Now it appears that Mr. Ford has been caught in a damning lie while his "good guy" friend, Lisi, is being charged with extortion used in attempts to attain that non-existent, "I do not do crack" tape. That's some upstanding citizen you have chosen as an associate, sir! If the allegations are true, Mr. Ford, own them. I can only wonder how much simpler it would have been for the mayor and more critically, for his city had he admitted to a substance abuse problem and signed into a rehab clinic. I am betting that sympathy and support would have been the overwhelming response! Taking responsibility for his actions and a frank dose of truth would have won the hearts of many Torontonians. The flip side could ring the death knell on Ford's political ambitions.
And then there is the esteemed leader of our country who denies prior knowledge of payments made to Senator Duffy by the PMO's office so ardently that he has thrown his once valued assistant, Nigel Wright, under the bus. How gallant! In spite of Mr. Harper's proclivity to micro management, whether or not we believe his protestations of innocence is immaterial. Caring to admit it or not, Mr. Harper is ultimately responsible for the PMO's actions. As a Broker of Record and owner of a real estate brokerage, under the law, I was responsible for the actions of my sales staff, a burden that led to many a sleepless night. In one dire case, I fired a sales representative on the spot, contacted the harmed party's solicitor for a calculation of damages for which my brokerage paid and then reported both myself and the sales representative to the Real Estate Council of Ontario. It happened on my watch! Funny thing, three years later when the harmed party decided to sell their home, they listed with our brokerage on the advice of their solicitor, so impressed was he that we had accepted responsibility for a serious breach of agent duty. John F. Kennedy wrote, "From those to whom much is given, much is expected." Mr. Harper, you can deny prior knowledge of the payments in question until eternity, but at the very least and as leader of our great country, show some moral fortitude and accept responsibility for the actions of your own office. It occurred during your watch! True leaders, sir, do not make excuses.
Studies by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada indicate the lowest voter turnout at elections is found in the 18 to 24 age group, followed closely by the 25 to 34 age group. A plethora of complicated factors are at play here. I cannot help but think, though, that one is the "trust factor". Who can you really trust? Whose promises can you believe? If our elected officials appear to bend and deny the truth or dodge responsibility for their actions, why bother to vote? Small wonder that there is a growing cynicism in our voting public.
I dream of a city, a province and a country of elected officials where truth, no matter how difficult, is taken seriously and leadership is about taking responsibility. Not too much to ask, I don't think! It's what we teach our children.