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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Teacher Trudeau for the Win

Trudeau standing up for journalists and tough questions - to his supporters?  It's gotta be staged, right?  A way to distinguish himself from Harper even more now that Harper's numbers are slipping?

It might be, but watching the footage, that's not how it feels.  Nope - what it feels like is something every one of us is familiar with, if we dig back into the recesses of our memory (pun intended).

What Trudeau sounds like in that moment is a teacher leading a class on a field trip.  "Come on, guys, it's not about you right now, listen to the speaker!"  My wife is a teacher - I am more than a little familiar with that tone.

Regardless of the why, the presentation does make a difference.  Harper, the "tough leader" that he is, has regularly run away from questions.  His caucus has taken heckling to a new art.  Even his supporters have called the press "lying pieces of shit" without a correction from their leader.

I don't think Harper connects the dots between what he says and what his supporters do.  I genuinely think he buys into the whole Jedem das Seine thing and thinks people are not connected, nor that behaviour from a leader impacts behaviour from others.

Harper probably doesn't feel that his partisan attacks on Muslims have played any role in the attacks Muslim women have faced in this country after he started his attacks; he probably feels they were happening already, but that maybe the media is talking about these stories now to build false connections.

Truth is, though, that the leader sets the tone for all those who follow them.  The Tory base aren't rational actors who support him because he makes the best, most logical policy decisions and case for them - they are emotionally invested in him and the Conservative tribe.

From voters to caucus members to even staff, Harper's demeanour has set the tone for how the rest of his people operate.

Now, here's Trudeau, actively siding with media over their right to ask tough questions instead of looking a blind eye while his team shouts them down.  This is a moment that will be noticed and internalized by Trudeau fans everywhere - and by the media.

I don't think there was any big nefarious plot behind the line - I just see a seasoned teacher falling back on his training and experience.  What that experience leads to, however, is responsible conversations, which include tough questions.  The best teachers want to be challenged by their students, because it's as much about shaping their social skills as it is about conveying information (or having the highest test-scores in the school).

“Hey! Hey! We have respect for journalists in this country,” Trudeau shouted. “They ask tough questions and they’re supposed to. OK?”

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