Not much of a spectator sport

Kathleen Petty signs off as host of CBC Radio’s The House with a few final thoughts.

Hugh Segal, with whom I spoke at the beginning of the show, once wrote an editorial in support of a set of rules we implemented on this program: no more personal attacks, people talking over each other, politicians being allowed to freely throw around talking points unchallenged. That set of guiding principles meant MP panels were few and far between. We reached out more often to individual federal politicians, but we interviewed fewer of them. In part, because fewer of them were willing to agree to in-depth, one-on-one interviews. We wanted more policy discussions instead of political discussions…

I didn’t think we were really asking for much. If, in response to a question, a politician hesitated, even a little, I was reasonably confident that the answer required some thought, instead of tired talking points that require none. That in Ottawa is a victory. And that is, in my view, a problem. We talk AT each other, not WITH each other. We keep score, assign penalties, and generally treat politics as a sport. But as sports go, politics might be a great a game for participants, but not spectators or listeners. I sense a great disconnect. Why don’t Canadians vote? Perhaps, because we’re not treating them as participants – but as spectators.

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