Democracy at its very best

I sat down to read an article, “Answers Wanted” by Sarah Pratt in the winter 2016 edition of the University of Alberta Alumni Magazine. In it was a quote from Maria Mayan, PhD, assistant director of the Community-University Partnership in the U of A’s Faculty of Extension, saying, “Imagine if someone sat above your desk watching you work and then wrote a report about your job without talking to you. It would be an incomplete picture.”
She’s making the argument that a researcher can’t solve problems by holing up in their ivory towers and not work with the people who live the issues they’re trying to solve.
Prime Minister Trudeau is on a cross-country tour and is getting tough questions from Canadians.
Trudeau could have chosen to attend the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland instead.
A meeting where the richest of the richest, multi-national corporations and rich-guy-funded foundations and charities gather with political leaders to get an economic update—almost solely from the perspective of the rich and famous.
He went last year, which probably was a good idea for networking, but it is nothing more than a sanctioned propaganda meeting that supposedly passes the smell test for conflict of interest.
Or, Trudeau could be hiding in his office and letting his PMO staff tweet and deflect the tough questions.
He could be sneaking out the back door of the House of Commons and avoiding the press scrum.
He could be reducing press conferences to infrequent nuisances with only a few questions from friendly journalists.
While on the road, he could have held forums with invited guests only and friendly scripted questions.
He could have ignored those ridings or provinces that are clearly unfriendly to a Liberal leader.
He could be leading chants to shout down Liberal dissenters.
Instead he’s on the road hearing from Canadians.
Best of all, it appears the Opposition parties have been respectful of the democratic process by not stacking the forums with dissenters and politically biased questions.
Trudeau is taking the heat from ordinary citizens like you and me.  And no, he can’t or won’t answer every question to the satisfaction of the questioner because he is responsible for over 32 million people, not just one.
You do not need to agree with Prime Minister Trudeau’s policies or his religion, or his selfies, but surely it’s worth noting that this is democracy at its very best.
Of course, in the age of socially acceptable boorish behaviour, it is understandable for leaders to avoid such interactions. At least Trudeau is not a boorish cheerleader.
If might just be one person, or one story that impacts the Prime Minister and gives him a new insight into making a better decision for Canada as a whole.
It might be that he hears an overwhelming dissatisfaction on some policy and might ask his staff to review the policy again.
It might not make any difference in the short-term but impact future decisions.
It might be a wakeup call that English-speaking Quebecers should have their questions respectfully answered in English rather than French.
But be assured any politician who has the guts to face the electorate directly, make a faux pas or two, answer stupidly once in a while, is a very strong leader.
These exchanges will strengthen the Prime Minister’s empathy and understanding because listening and hearing always has that effect.
The value of Trudeau’s cross-country tour is equivalent to what Mayan was getting at with her comments about working with the people who live the issues you are representing.
In contrast, it does not take an ounce of toughness or manliness to hide behind a twitter feed.

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