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Death of a Statesman: Remembering the Titans

04/10/2013 04:43 EDT | Updated 06/09/2013 05:12 EDT

When a world leader dies, a lot of people take notice. Words of sympathy and praise flood in from all corners of the world while critics insist on reminding the masses of the deceased's missteps and blunders.

A leader with a strong personality and an enduring reign will inevitably leave a mark on a nation. Tax incentives vs. tax increases, privatization vs. nationalization, war vs. peace, allies vs. foes, international trade vs. domestic diligence, healthcare and education investments vs. fiscal responsibility: decisions abound, and so do their consequences. Yet we salute iconic leaders for clinging to their convictions throughout the journey.

It is easy to play Monday morning quarterback on many of the tough choices made with limited intelligence data or deep misunderstandings of underlying root causes; we cannot help but wonder "what if?"

Some will say that the deceased stood up for the nation's countrymen, never strayed from deeply-held beliefs, never hesitated to publicly denounce foes -- even world superpowers. Always lending a strong, steady hand to trusted allies no matter the international chatter. Swatting cries of dissent like flies, the deceased looked forward, always with a head held high.

Any historian knows that the path to righteousness is paved with stones and potholes in the form of dissention, criticism, and protests. In this case, an assassination attempt was also part of the plot. But the strong survive. And that -- the deceased did.

There were times when strange bedfellows, even dictators, where obliged companions towards building a strong defence against the common enemy. The ebbs and flows of governmental rule are fraught with trials and tribulations. Political capital spilled, but political principles never wavered.

Perhaps it is why the people elected and re-elected the deceased time and again, thereby recording strong support for the unwavering vision the leader articulated with legendary dexterity.

Is death the right time to make insensitive remarks about such a transformative, historical icon? Well, it depends.

If you thought this blogpost was about Hugo Chavez, the populist president of Venezuela, perhaps not. Our own Prime Minister didn't take the high road when he issued remarks on Hugo Chavez's death -- comments described as 'blunt, insensitive, impertinent'.

If you thought this blogpost was about the late Margaret Thatcher, then you may have changed positions.

It is interesting to see the very different choice of words used by PM Harper when a world leader dies -- this time around.

It seems a number of Thatcherism fans have expressed concern or outright disgust in the uncomfortable truths bubbling up about the Iron Lady immediately following the announcement of her passing.

As Canada's international reputation continues to slide, PM Harper's successive fumbles in the foreign affairs file and his partisan platitudes remind Canadians and the world that Stephen Harper will never ascend to the statesman status earned by his titan friends nor his titan foes.