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Moral Leadership: Facing Canada’s Leadership Crisis

by Robert C. Evans

Toronto outplacement counsellor Robert Evans has found the enemy – it is us, the Canadian people. He contends that the country has lost its moral compass, and few organizations escape his wrath.

“We seem not to know what the word leadership means any more and have lost sight of its essential moral underpinning,” says Evans in this slender polemic.

He takes aim at the failings found in virtually every facet of society – business, government, the military, and the church. Familiar shortcomings abound, with coverage of the Somalia affair, Mount Cashel, and Westray. In these and other situations, the author believes leaders abdicated their responsibility and opted for expediency.

Moral Leadership lists the heroes and villains among us. Evans praises former prime minister Joe Clark, retired general Lewis MacKenzie, and journalist Michael Harris; he damns Westray mine owner Clifford Frame, defence minister Art Eggleton, and successive Liberal governments. The Globe and Mail, to which the author contributes, is held up as a paragon of good behaviour.

Evans’ writing may be good enough for Canada’s national newspaper, but he relies too often on clichés and trite phrases. His ideas are sound, but their presentation leaves something to be desired. Typos pop up throughout the text, and one-time Red Cross secretary-general Doug Lindores is referred to as “Eric.” The index is so error-ridden it is useless – Nat Hentoff is referred to as Jim Hentoff, and David Collenette is referred to as John Collenette.

While Evans is unhappy with the current ethical station of Canada, he is not pessimistic. “We have a good society, because we, most of us, are good people, moral people, possessed of a moral foundation that allows the 30 million of us to live together in approximate harmony despite economic, historical, and geopolitical impediments that, in theory, should have done us in as a nation long ago.”

Because Moral Leadership was completed in mid-1997, Evans was unable to include more recent scandals in his litany of moral failings, but that does not matter. Somebody should send copies of this book to Bill Clinton and Alan Eagleson.


Reviewer: Paul Park

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Ryerson


Price: $29.99

Page Count: 222 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-07-552924-6

Released: Jan.

Issue Date: 1998-3

Categories: Politics & Current Affairs