Canada needs a better policy debate: Philip Cross in the Financial Post

There are structural reasons why the quality of public debate in Canada is actually worse than in the US, Philip Cross writes in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which you can read in full here.

By Philip Cross, January 13, 2021

Everyone agrees that last year’s federal election was a low point for Canadian political debate. Rather than discussing the difficult issues created by the social and economic fallout from the pandemic, the election focused on trivialities, epitomized by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh who posted a TikTok video of his dance moves — as if the election was an audition. were for Dancing with the Stars and not a contest of ideas to lead a troubled G7 nation.

Concerns about the declining quality of public debate are, of course, not unique to Canada. In 2014, even before Donald Trump entered politics, The Economist lamented that US “national debates have rarely been so sourly unproductive” despite the proliferation of data in society. In this country, too, the superficiality of public discourse in Canada was evident long before an unnecessary and unsavory election made it apparent to all.

However, there are structural reasons why the quality of public debate in Canada is actually worse than in the US

For starters, our relatively small population necessarily limits the number of votes and new perspectives on our problems. This disadvantage is exacerbated by the extensive control that various organizations exercise to restrict access to the public forum. Every nation has what David Brooks, writing in The Atlantic, recently called a self-proclaimed creative class that controls “the vast network of academics and analysts who determine what is true. Above all, it possesses the power of devotion; it determines what is recognized and valued, and what is despised and rejected… If you feel seen in society, it is because the creative class sees you; if you feel unseen, it’s because this lesson doesn’t.”


Leave a Comment