RMC Prof. Turned Kingston Mayor: Bryan Paterson
By 27832 OCdt (I) Pablo Cardona – 12 Squadron
Bryan Paterson began his political career in 2010 by winning the city council seat representing Kingston’s Trillium district. Paterson had been a long-time Kingston resident and after years of “following local political issues” he “thought it would be valuable to have someone with an economics background” on the city council. Serving on the city council was a part time job that Paterson thoroughly enjoyed and he naturally considered running for re-election once his term expired in 2014. However, Mayor Mark Gerretsen’s decision not to run for another term as mayor caused a change in Kingston’s political landscape. Seeing an opportunity to serve his beloved city, Bryan Paterson chose to run for mayor in Kingston’s 2014 election.
Of course, Dr. Bryan Paterson was not a full-time politician. He’s been teaching economics at RMC for a long time an continues to balance that responsibility with his mayoral duties. Even during his busy 2014 campaign, he continued to teach courses at the College. On a day to day to basis he would “work the election, come in and teach for an hour” and then continue working hard on the campaign trail. Being a relative newcomer to municipal politics, Paterson had to spend a great deal of time interacting with Kingston’s voters. He remarks that “when you’re new and people don’t know you […] it’s important to spend time with as many people as you can.” During the course of the campaign, he estimates that he and his team “knocked on about 35 000 doors.” His efforts paid off when he won the 2014 and became Kingston’s new mayor.
As previously stated, Paterson continues to teach economics at RMC. He is in the unique position of having to balance duties to the RMC community and the city of Kingston. Balancing these two positions “can be challenging at times” especially because “the schedules tend to peak at exactly the same time.” It takes a great deal of time management skills to simultaneously be a professor and the mayor of a city. Paterson stresses the importance of organization and making sure that he spends his time productively. He believes that “it’s not so much about how much time you spend, but how wisely you use the time you have.” He consistently plans ahead and organizes his time to ensure that he can get everything done in a timely and efficient manner. Time management allows him to be highly effective in every capacity of his professional life.
One of the other major challenges of being mayor of a city like Kingston is the diversity of the community. Paterson has observed that despite being a small city, Kingston has a very diverse population, from its downtown residents, to those in the suburbs and those in rural areas. The “priorities and views of the residents can vary quite dramatically” depending on where they live, which makes it important for him to bring people together to move the city forward. Seeing as people don’t always agree, “finding ways to bring everyone together can be challenging but also very rewarding.” As the mayor, he cannot act unilaterally and must have the support of the city council before passing legislation. He has developed a Team based approach to leadership, which he believes is “only kind of leadership that is functional in city politics” to build consensus on issues. Although he can’t always get his way, he understands that compromise is important, as is understanding both sides of an argument.
With his unique situation, Paterson believes that he is in a position to help create stronger ties between RMC and Kingston. Paterson attended Queens University and while there he describes having “a positive view of RMC” but he “had no connection to RMC, to the military.” Today, after years of experience working with Officer-Cadets and military personnel, Paterson believes that he has a far greater understanding and appreciation for the Canadian Armed Forces. Shortly after he began teaching, he already had students graduating and deploying to Afghanistan. As a professor, he has helped students connect with local businesses and obtain research opportunities. He’s worked to build strong relationships between the RMC, Queens University and Saint Lawrence College communities. He understands that Kingston is a “post-secondary town” and believes that both RMC and Kingston can benefit from being included in local discussions. Paterson is “proud to be a Kingstonian and a member of the RMC community” and hopes that he can use his unique position to build stronger ties between RMC and the city of Kingston.
Things might have worked out differently for Paterson. When he first entered university, he planned to study business but one of his first year economics professors inspired him to pursue an economics degree. As a lifelong economist, he believes that “economics is much broader than people realize” and involves the study of incentives and human behaviour. One of his areas of specialty is the economics of conflict, a consequential study for those in the profession of arms. An economics education allows an officer to develop a better understanding of conflicts and what could motivate them. Paterson “loves teaching” and the “interaction with students” that he experiences at RMC. Many of his students are interested in the field and in the career opportunities that it provides outside of the military.
Paterson’s time in the classroom has allowed him to meet bright, motivated aspiring officers and he’s come to realize that RMC is a special place. He’s developed a “great respect for RMC students for meeting the demands that take up their time” in the four pillars. He applauds cadets for their hard work and realizes that the work ethic learned at RMC is the foundation of leadership. The experience offered at RMC is like “no other university, certainly in Canada” and Paterson notes that “the vision of the four pillars is to create well rounded individuals that are able to function and lead in society and in the military.” He has a great respect for the work done by the college’s various departments and how they come together to produce the well-rounded leaders Canada’s military needs. Furthermore, he stresses the importance of TDV (truth, duty, valour) and believes that in order to be a good leader, one must protect their reputation and strive to do the right thing.
As the mayor, Paterson is frequently invited to attend special local events. Despite his busy schedule, he always tries to make time to participate in events going on at the College. Earlier this school year, he and other city officials visited RMC in an official capacity. During the visit, Paterson got to see things that he wouldn’t otherwise see working within the economics and management department. He found it “interesting to see RMC from an outside lens” and the kind of stellar work being done by professors and cadets. He enjoys seeing the College spirit and his two favourite events during the year are the Carr-Harris cup and the obstacle course at the end of FYOP. Earlier this year, he got to drop the ceremonial cup at the Carr-Harris cup in front of thousands of Kingstonians (many from RMC and Queens). Since he became mayor, “the coolest event for [him]” has been presiding over the Copper Sunday ceremony.