You’re never too old to learn the same lesson again. People on television are not the same as people in real life. This week I attended a speech by Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, and came away more impressed than I expected to be. The minister was in a free-wheeling mode, self-deprecating at times, never glib, and always spoke to the point, unlike some politicians who dance around the topic at hand.
Her main message was that democracies around the world are under siege. During the last thirty years the middle-class has been hollowed out, jobs have disappeared, and wages haven’t kept pace. The children of today will not attain the standard of living enjoyed by their parents. She listed some steps the federal government had taken in response and mentioned the name of her riding, University-Rosedale, several times. You have to expect some partisan messaging.
Freeland’s answers to questions from the largely student audience were more revealing. One young woman asked how to achieve your goals in life. Freeland had three points. First, “Go for it.” Second, she cited herself, saying, “As you can see I’m not very tall.” (She looks about 5’2″.) “And as you can hear, I have a high voice, so I don’t intimidate anybody.” The best course of action is to become an expert in some field. That way you earn respect. Third, she said, “Surround yourself with people you trust.”
Another student asked how Freeland, a former journalist, became interested in politics. Turns out she was asked to run by Justin Trudeau. When she balked, her father stepped in and said, “If you don’t run, you will no longer be my daughter.” Perhaps the most interesting point of all was what was not discussed. None of the eight questions from the floor involved SNC-Lavalin or her two female cabinet colleagues who recently resigned. Maybe people don’t care as much about some stories as do the newscasts and newspapers. That’s another lesson worth re-learning.