Where Karen Stands

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Excerpts of the Speech Delivered by Karen McCrimmon
Declaring Candidacy for Liberal Leadership of Canada

Where Karen Stands

Canada drifting off course

Canada is a big hearted, open minded, generous and courageous nation that had always held itself to the highest standard of leadership and global teamwork. I have always felt intense pride that my country was the one nation which exemplified how to live with inclusion, dignity, community and integrity…but that precious legacy seems slowly to be eroding.

As a former military navigator and as a pilot, keeping the aircraft on course is at the top of the list. That same sense of responsibility and duty to right the wrong, keep things on track and yes, make the course correction, compels me do something about Canada drifting off course.

The unity of leadership instead of the politics of division

I believe Canadians want a politics and a government that matches the Canadian spirit – matches what we believe about ourselves, and honours all the work and successes accomplished by all Canadians who led the way in the past.

We need to stop focusing on what divides us instead of what brings us together. Canadians deserve the unity of leadership instead of the politics of division.

Trust and Respect

To get back on course we have to re-establish TRUST and RESPECT for each other regardless of our political affiliations. Respect for the individual, respect for our similarities and our differences, respect for each other’s ideas and opinions, and respect for our democratic and national institutions which enable us to work together for the betterment of all.


I hear many pronouncements about physical and macro-economic security and they are indeed important…but if you cannot eat the food, drink the water, breathe the air, earn a decent living, and live with dignity and freedom, then that security is an illusion.

Water, food, income, job, health and environmental security all deserve the full attention of government too. Canadians have a strong connection to our land and we know there is a strong connection between the health of our land and our own health. To promote and reward the further degradation of our environment is a crime against all Canadians.


We need to talk about the high personal, social and economic costs of unemployment.

We know we haven’t regained the level of employment we lost. We have merely converted many of middle-income jobs into a multiple of part-time, seasonal and minimum-wage jobs. We cannot allow young Canadians facing an unemployment rate of nearly 13% to become a lost generation.


Of particular importance to me are our veterans who should not have to take their government to court to get the benefits they so clearly deserve. Veterans’ issues should be non-partisan issues where all politicians put their differences aside, stop the blame game, and get the problems solved. [See "For Canada’s veterans, government rhetoric and policies are at war with each other " Globe and Mail Nov 16, 2012...]

Issues requiring action now

We face serious challenges: the viability of our healthcare system; our aging demographic; the reduction in middle-income jobs; climate change; and the well-being of our First Nations people — all issues requiring government action now.

These are complex issues requiring long-term, responsible, pragmatic plans and strategies collaboratively developed with contributions by all levels of government as well as the corporate and business sector, education institutions, labour, the community agencies and volunteers.

We are all in this together

We have never been a people of political extremes…maybe it is because we routinely face the extremes of weather, of distance and of geography. We have never been an “each man for himself” or a “you are on your own sister” kind of country. We know that we are all in this together.

So how do we get back to a Canada which is ‘in it together’? A Canada which understands that the whole is greater than the parts? A Canada which values the contributions of all? A Canada which understands the greatness which comes with synergy? Leadership.


Management is what gets done – plans, programs, budgets – but leadership is about how it gets done. And this country sorely needs an upgrade from management to leadership.

Leadership is about serving others before self. Leadership is about setting the example. It’s about giving voice to a vision and inspiring others to willingly contribute to achieving that vision as part of the team.

As a military officer and squadron commander I led, and mentored others to lead. Being a military officer is as much about leadership as it is about expertise … perhaps more. It is about inspiring others to work together to achieve seemingly impossible feats. It is about overcoming all obstacles to achieve the mission. It is about making (and taking responsibility for) difficult decisions under pressure while sifting through volumes of incomplete and often contradictory information to find the heart of the matter.

The Heart of the Matter

For me, right here, right now, the heart of the matter is the well-being of ALL Canadians. We need a strong, unified vision and blueprint that has fiscal responsibility at its core and teamwork and compassion in its heart. And we need a leader capable of unifying opposing ideologies – finding the best each has to offer and building that into a shared vision all Canadians can get behind.

A leader’s duty is to build trust, faith and respect. The first thing I did whenever I was assigned a new command or responsibility was to LISTEN.

Jimi Hendrix once said….. Knowledge speaks….but wisdom listens.

Building Canada

One can demolish with a single push of a button, one can destroy with a single strike and one can diminish with a single stroke of a pen…but building…building is the work of a team who can see that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Building trust, building confidence, building relationships, building consensus, building teams, building bridges and building a brighter future than what might have otherwise been possible…these are what I believe in, stand for and can deliver on.

I served my country as a member of the Canadian Forces for most of my adult life and now I am simply offering to serve my fellow citizens in a different capacity – a call to duty even more important than what came before.


Below is a presentation Karen often gives when asked to speak about leadership.