Tributes Flow for a True Leader
OPINION: — IT IS PERSONAL
Tributes have been flowing in since news yesterday that Alexa McDonough had passed away. She was 77.
Politicians of all stripes could only say positive things even if they had been adversaries in the world of politics.
Alexa, as she would have us call her, was one of the good ones. In fact, she was one of the very few we can call the exemplary ones.
Yes, she was the first female leader of a major political party in Canada, a feat she accomplished right at home when she was elected leader of Nova Scotia’s New Democratic Party.
Many were surprised that an unelected woman from Halifax could usurp control of a party that new only male MLAs—all from Cape Breton. But, it was no surprise for me, and this is personal.
Alexa and I started our political lives with the Liberals, not together, but roughly at the same time. She worked on policy development that helped to elect Gerald Regan as premier. I ran for parliament and was rewarded for my effort with a job, courtesy of Premier Regan.
It wasn’t long after that Alexa and I saw an ugly side to Liberal politics and each of us gravitated to the NDP, offering a kinder, gentler approach that focussed first on people, not politics.
I was president of the Inverness South NDP Association—yes, in Cape Breton—and we saw an opportunity for genuine change and a truly progressive approach in the person of Alexa McDonough. She had my political support and my personal commitment.
I sat on the Provincial Council, the NDP’s version of an executive. That gave me a first had chance to work with Alexa and to see her in action, and she became everything we thought she could be, and then some.
Alexa was a great leader, a great role model and inspiration, not only for other women to follow into politics, but for everyone—female and male—to see what it takes to be successful in politics.
Alexa knew, instinctively, that people want and need to follow someone they can trust, someone who genuinely cares, and who responds to the needs of others first. Call it a simple Christian ethic if you wish, but while most politicians look out selfishly and shamelessly for themselves, leaders like Alexa look out for the people she set out to serve.
As I said, it is personal. I know there are politicians speaking today as if they knew Alexa, but some are just trying to ride along in the wind from her sail.
She set a high standard, a very high standard, and she never wavered. That is why we mourn today. That is why Alexa will be missed.
But, and this is a big but, if just a few of today’s politicians would actually follow her lead, we would all be better off.
I won’t remember Alexa as the first female leader that did this or that. I will remember Alexa as a true leader, the first political leader I ever supported, simply because she was a great leader and an even greater person.
Rest now you good and faithful servant. You completed your mission with honour. Thank you!
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