I used to think that politicians shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about their legacy and, in fact, when I would mention this to the few that I have known over the years they would say something rhetorical like “I’m just doing the people’s business and I will let the legacy thing take care of itself”.
But reflecting on Romeo Leblanc this week, I am reminded of my evolving position on this issue. I now believe that politicians (and other leaders) should be very concerned about their legacy and from day one should be working towards building it.
It seems to me that if a person has their legacy in mind they will be focused on the bigger picture. On achieving something that will last through time. Of not being one of those Premiers or Cabinet Ministers or business leaders that just fades into history.
I think the “people’s business” all too often becomes about signing cheques and making sure the day to day stuff gets done. But what is really needed is for leaders to step up and address the big issues of the day be that war or economic crisis or some serious social justice issue.
In New Brunswick these days our leaders should be focused on legacy. Will this be the generation of leaders that turns NB around or not?
As one example, in 50 years will they rename the Moncton airport the Shawn Graham International Airport? Will the four lane highway from Moncton to Campbellton to connect the booming south to the emerging north be the Graham Memorial Highway?
Or will he leave government in relative obscurity, go on to run an industry association and become a footnote among the history of New Brunswick politicians?
Obviously, I am joking in the sense I don’t expect a Premier to think about having his or her name on a building somewhere in 50 years but I do expect him or her to clearly see the big challenges of the day and try to wrestle them to the ground.