11/17/2012 08:49 EST | Updated 01/16/2013 05:12 EST

The Liberal Party Needs a Leader -- Not Manager


To mark the official start of the federal Liberal leadership race, The Huffington Post Canada asked all the declared candidates to tell us, in their words, why they decided to run. Karen McCrimmon, a retired Canadian Forces Lt.-Col., announced her bid for the Liberal leadership on October, 14 2012.

Canada is a country that has always set an example about how to live with dignity, community and integrity. I am running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada because I want us to build on that, and I fear that the current government is dismantling all that makes Canada what it is.

As a former military navigator and as a pilot, I can see that we are starting to go off course. It sometimes happens slowly -- just a degree at a time. It can be so subtle you don't even notice it until it is too late.

To get back on course we have to re-establish trust and respect for each other regardless of our political affiliations, or any of the characteristics that make us who we are. Respect for the individual, respect for our similarities and our differences, respect for eachother's ideas and opinions and respect for our democratic and national institutions that enable us to work together for the betterment of all.

Canadians have always built boldly, creatively and cooperatively and today we need that courage and creativity more than at any other time in our history. We need to start working together because I do not want my legacy to my children to be a bankrupt country with a heart and spirit that has been sliced and diced for political advantage. Canadians deserve the unity of leadership instead of the politics of division.

All I seem to hear these days is pronouncements about physical and macro-economic security. They are indeed important, but if you cannot eat the food, drink the water, breathe the air, earn a decent living or live with dignity and freedom, then that security is an illusion.

Water, food, income, job, health, education and environmental security all deserve the full attention of government. We Canadians have a strong connection to our land and we all know that there is a link between the health of our land and our own health. To promote and reward the further degradation of our environment is a crime against all Canadians -- present and future.

As Leader of the Liberal Party, I will address the high personal, social and economic costs of unemployment. We all know that we haven't regained the level of employment we have lost. We have merely converted many of the good middle income jobs into a multiple of part-time, seasonal and minimum wage jobs. We cannot allow young Canadians who face an unemployment rate of nearly 13 per cent to become a lost generation.

We have serious challenges ahead of us and this is not the time for a "not my Job" kind of approach. The continued viability of our healthcare system, our aging demographic, the growing gap between rich and poor, climate change and the well-being of our First Nations people are all issues that require government action today and in the future. Canadians cannot build for the future when we are fearful about how to make ends meet, how to find quality childcare, how to care for our aging parents, pay tuition or put away money for our retirement.

And, of particular personal importance, our veterans should not have to take their government to court to get the benefits that they so clearly deserve.

As a leader, I will refuse to cater to a politics of fear. The next time someone tells you to be afraid -- afraid of the current economic situation, afraid of some foreign country or unions or environmentalists or a minority group, look them straight in the eye and say "No's not the Canadian way." We have never allowed fear to divide us, or keep us from our responsibilities to each other or the world, and it has never stopped us from building the kind of Canada we want for ourselves and our children.

We have never been a people of political extremes -- maybe it is because as Canadians we routinely face the extremes of weather, of distance and of geography. We have never been an "each man for himself" or a "you are on your own sister" kind of country. We know that we are all in this together.

I will be a leader who leads, rather than just manages. I believe that management is what gets done -- plans, programs, and budgets. Leadership is about "how" it gets done -- with integrity, transparency and inclusivity.

We need an upgrade from management to leadership.

As a retired military officer and squadron commander I have real life leadership experience -- making difficult decisions under pressure while sifting through volumes of incomplete and often contradictory information to find the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is the well-being of ALL Canadians. We need a strong, unified vision and blueprint for a Canada that has fiscal responsibility at its core and teamwork and compassion in its heart.

One can demolish with a single push of a button, one can destroy with a single strike and one can diminish with a single stroke of a pen, but building -- building is the work of a team who can see that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Canadians have always been leaders and builders. It's time to go back to being builders once again. It's time to navigate a better future. It's time to set our country back on course.

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