WHITBY, ONT. -- One of my favourite definitions of leadership comes from Carolyn Shields, where she describes the characteristics of a transformative leader. She indicates that they have a “clear sense of their values and beliefs” and use these to guide, and ground, their decisions, take courageous stands that require moral courage and engage in activism and advocacy irrespective of the tension surrounding the issue.

I have used this definition for several years to guide some of the decisions and moves I have made. Most importantly, however, I use this definition when assessing the leadership capabilities of others. Do they have the courage to do what is right, even when it might not be popular? Do they keep their word, despite the ease of doing otherwise?

Over the past six years, I have seen many promises broken – first-past-the-post elections, the removal of boiled water advisories from Indigenous communities or a commitment to intersectional feminism - for example. I have also seen decisions made that were politically expedient, while continuing to harm Canadians: the inability to remove all mandatory minimum sentences (Bill C-22 provides a partial list, but mandatory minimums have not been proven to keep Canadians safe); pardoning of criminal records for cannabis, instead of expungements (even though most communities impacted by over surveillance are Black and Indigenous); or throwing money at racial justice without looking at the root cause of problems and tackling them head-on.

The fact that the government has not provided consent to certification with respect to the Black Class Action lawsuit is an perfect example of saying you stand with Black communities, while letting workers suffer in your own house.

While these are a few examples, I believe it is important for Canadians to assess the capacity of those vying for the seat in that corner office on Parliament Hill, to lead a G7 country. While it is true that one government cannot do everything, the phrase “but we still have more to do” loses its effectiveness when you had four years of a majority government to get things done, and two years of a minority to work collaboratively to finish anything that was left over.

But here we are, in an election (may I add that elections are expensive) during a pandemic, where people are struggling, in order for someone, who purports to be a leader, to get another majority. To do what? To provide more broken promises? To continue to half step on commitments? To continue to show was transformative leadership doesn’t look like?

Let’s hope this election ends with that majority, so that the “more that needs to be done” gets done. Spending all this money, to end up where we started or worse, is not leadership, it’s ego. And that is an option that Canadians cannot afford right now.

Former member of Parliament Celina Caesar-Chavannes quit the Liberal caucus in 2019 to represent her Whitby, Ont. riding as an independent. She's a senior adviser and adjunct lecturer at Queen’s University.