Author John Weston at a book launch event in Toronto. He’s signing copies at West Vancouver Library June 13, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Leadership lessons forged from politics

Book review: On! Achieving Excellence in Leadership

Losing his seat in the 2015 federal election inspired lawyer and former B.C. MP John Weston to write a book about leadership.

He ended up publishing On! Achieving Excellence in Leadership as the B.C. government was grappling with its own leadership crisis, and so I asked him how its advice about basic principles of leadership apply to the delicate minority situation at the B.C. legislature.

“The time to consider your long-term direction is not when you’re under fire or when a crisis looms,” Weston said of the struggle facing B.C.’s provincial party leaders in a fragile minority. “It’s leaders who have thought long and hard about integrity and responsibility, courage and compassion who are prepared for such things.”

Those terms serve as his chapter headings: integrity, responsibility, compassion, courage, freedom, equality, fitness and resolve.

With a forward by Senator Nancy Green Raine and diverse endorsements from Preston Manning, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and others, Weston draws from his experiences in politics and beyond.

He graduated from Harvard and Osgoode Hall Law School, and as a student worked for the B.C. government during the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in the 1980s. Weston went on to practice in Asia, speaking Mandarin as well as English and French. Since his West Vancouver seat was swept up in the Justin Trudeau wave of 2015, Weston has returned to practising law at McMillan LLP.

On integrity, Weston writes that Trudeau attracted new support with “friendly demeanour and youthful vigour.

“However, he disappointed even his followers by breaking promises concerning deficit financing and electoral reform.”

Weston notes the first law enacted by Stephen Harper as prime minister, the Accountability Act of 2006 that prohibited companies and unions from donating to political parties. Individual donations were capped at $1,000 a year, a limit since increased to $1,550.

In the 2010 Olympics at Vancouver and Whistler, Conservative MPs were told to pay for their own event tickets. Weston recounts a reception hosted by West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, where Weston’s wife won a pair of tickets to the gold medal men’s hockey game.

He insisted they decline the tickets, and things “seemed rather icy at the Weston residence that night.”

Goldsmith-Jones went on to be the Liberal candidate who defeated the Conservative Weston in 2015, ending a political career that started in 2008.

Weston is no cheerleader for his former government. He criticizes Harper’s promise not to tax income trusts, which caused large companies to shift to them and avoid federal tax. He recounts the Conservative government’s decision to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard base in Vancouver, which overshadowed investments in a few fisheries laboratory in Weston’s riding, and a joint operations centre for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard.

In the chapter On! Responsibility, Weston brings to mind the libertarian theme of Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who narrowly lost the Conservative Party leadership to Saskatchewan rival Andrew Scheer. An advocate for fitness as an MP, Weston stresses personal responsibility for fitness and health.

Weston praises another leadership candidate, Ontario MP Michael Chong, who quit the Harper cabinet because he wouldn’t support a motion to declare Quebec “a nation within a united Canada.” Chong argued that any “nations” within the country would only divide it.

Chong is best known for campaigning to make federal party leaders subject to support from a majority of their elected MPs. This is after decades of increasingly centralized control by prime ministers, beginning with Pierre Trudeau’s famous quip that MPs are “nobodies” as soon as they leave Parliament Hill. The younger Trudeau shows no more interest in relinquishing that iron control than Harper did.

Individual rights are a theme with Weston and his book. He is also founder of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a charity set up to defend individual rights.

• On! Achieving Excellence in Leadership is available at Amazon.ca for $19.95, and as a Kindle e-book edition for a limited-time price of $2.99.

Just Posted

Pandora supervised consumption site has busy first month

Site whose aim is to save lives takes on a new client-driven name: The Harbour

Victoria’s plastic bag ban inspires local entrepreneur to give back

Karebags a local, collaborative alternative for reusable bags, donates profits to charity

Project provides barrier to suicides at hospital parkade

VIHA budgets $650,000 for work at Royal Jubilee Hospital parkade

Our Place celebrates Christmas in July

Afternoon barbecue serves up turkey burgers and Santa hats under the hot sun

Pedestrian struck on Quadra Street

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Quadra Street at Hulford… Continue reading

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Lower Mainland blueberry farms expect solid season

Blueberry Council of B.C. says season will be better than last year

B.C. to add hundreds of taxis, help cab companies modernize

Ride hailing companies have to wait until fall of 2019 to apply for licences

BC Summer Games ready to begin on Vancouver Island

More than 2,000 athletes will compete in 18 sports from Friday to Sunday

Plenty of heroes in Thai cave rescue, says B.C. diver

Erik Brown reflects on team effort that brought 12 boys and their coach to safety

Funding available to replace infected B.C. hazelnut trees

B.C. Hazelnut Growers to recieve $300,000 over three years to battle eastern filbert blight

Woman charged after eight dogs seized from hotel room

Sixteen dogs recently seized from Adams and her daughter in Quesnel

Owner of B.C. fruit stand recounts ‘flames popping up everywhere’ from wildfire

The Mount Eneas wildfire is burning at about 200 hectares south of Peachland

Ontario, Saskatchewan premiers join together to oppose federal carbon plan

Saskatchewan is already involved in a court case over the tax

Most Read