News & Musings

Engaging the Unusual Suspects

Posted on Mar 16 2014

On Wednesday March 12th IAP2 BC hosted a community of practice discussion on “getting past the usual suspects” or conversly “engaging the unusual suspects”. I have continued to reflect on what I heard in terms of a national dialogue on a path forward.

Recently I was speaking with a colleague over lunch about Canada at the crossroads. I was reminded of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. In that we as Canadians are at the place where “two roads diverged in a wood (and we can take) the one less travelled by, and that (could) make all the difference". If we look at what we think best represents the success of Canadian values historically, would you say it is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or our role as peacekeepers? What comes to your mind when you think of what represents the best of Canada historically, what about currently?

For many the social reality of Canada today means that they have no hope of having influence on the issues that matter to them. They are characterized as apathetic, lacking in interest and enthusiasm. Apathy is one of the reasons cited for low engagement in discussions, or poor voter turn out. In my day-to-day work from facilitating public meetings, to engaging people in workshop discussions, to forum dialogues I have met many social realists.1 I appreciate why so many believe that they cannot change the way the world is, that they have no power, so why try. And in reality it may well be that the majority of Canadians are comfortable in their life that they see no reason to change what they perceive to be working just fine for them.  

Yet, the question remains as we approach the 2015 federal election, what kind of Canada do we want? Can we imagine a Canada that ensures economic prosperity, while minimizing risks? Do we value a Canada whose constitution also includes the right to a healthy environment? Where is our national consciousness going?

1. Whitney, D., and A. Trosten-Bloom. The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A practical guide to positive change. San Francisco. CA: BK, 2003, page 237.
Freire, P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York. NY: Continuum, 1970

 

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