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

CN train derails near New Hazelton

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved

Houston introduces Change program

Program offers lifestyle intervention to patients with metabolic syndrome

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Property sales up in Houston in 2017

Average selling price of single-family homes has also increased

Alexandra Park, undeveloped wonderland

Alexandra Park is located behind the Houston Leisure Facility at the end… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

A new development surrounding plane that went missing around Revelstoke in November

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

$130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

UK’s Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew, engaged

Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, will marry Jack Brooksbank in Autumn 2018

German nurse charged with 97 more murders

Niels Hoegel, serving a life sentence for two murders, has been indicted in nearly 100 more killings.

Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years

The pair were found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus’s parents and sister in a rural home near Castor, Alberta

With Senate talks falling short, U.S. shutdown enters workweek

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for noncitizens over U.S. citizens

Toronto mayor wants city to co-host 2026 FIFA World Cup

The mayor of Canada’s most populous city says he wants Toronto to be among the North American cities to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup

With a lighter touch, SAG Awards follows a familiar script

Morgan Freeman accepts the Life Achievement Award at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday

Most Read