Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a video of the 1979 Canadian Federal Election Debate.
What I witnessed was, in a word, shocking. If you haven’t seen it before, or if your memory of the 70s has since waned, it really is worth watching, if only for a few minutes.
The exchange between Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Joe Clark, and Ed Broadbent was unlike anything I have observed before in Canadian politics: a thoughtful, earnest, composed, and nearly two-hour-long discussion on important issues.
Theoretically, what I’ve described should be the norm.
In a developed liberal democracy like Canada, we often take for granted the political sphere as a bastion for tempered and civil discourse. And though the state of Canadian political parley is wildly impressive in comparison to most other nations’, retrospection ought to prompt disappointment in how markedly conversations have degraded.
Here, I am not simply referring to the substance and clarity of ideas, but also the equanimity with which they are put
I am not exaggerating, and I think that my Gen Z peers would agree with
The first thing that might strike
The asymmetry of talent between Pierre and Justin is, in this respect, jarring. Whereas Pierre is reactively lucid, and at times charming, Justin stammers, fumbles, and deflects whenever he is forced to go off the cuff.
Indeed, the silver-tongue gene seems to be recessive, a reality that is somewhat
Equally noteworthy is the ability of the former leaders to balance sternness with decorum.
By today’s standards, lamentably, they seem almost robotic. Modern politicians–particularly those who are male–feel a greater pressure to display emotion than they did in the past. Inevitably, this harms conversational etiquette.
In a recent piece for Quillette, Ben Sixsmith outlines how prevailing cultural attitudes in the West have grown increasingly hostile towards male stoicism.
Traits that were formerly met with near universal praise are now viewed by many to be symptomatic of insipidity or callousness. Many have suggested that Andrew Scheer, who would have been the most bubbly man on the stage in 79′, may fail at the polls, in part, for being such a bore.
Again, this generational expiration of composure is patently obvious when juxtaposing the two Trudeaus.
In stark contrast to his father, the vicissitudes of our current Prime Minister routinely reduce him to tears.
To a significant minority of Canadians, the theatrics and clumsiness frame Justin as a personable, empathetic leader.
To those of us who are nostalgic for an ostensibly phlegmatic past, the histrionics couldn’t be rid of a moment too soon.