A taste of politics

Not content with experiencing Canada’s medical system, I also dipped
my toes into its political system. Simon told me that the Green Party
was having a leadership debate at OISE. I tagged along because
politicians live and die by their public speaking abilities, and Ian
gave me a lift there.

It was absolutely fascinating. The two candidates present – Elizabeth
May and Jim Fannon – were as different as night and day. I spent most
of the evening not only listening to the points they made during the
debate but also watching how they made those points, taking notes on
their speech technique and manner.

Elizabeth was by far the more seasoned speaker. Here are a few things
she did particularly well.

  • Her experience gave her plenty of concrete examples to cite during
    the debate.
  • She used quotes to great effect, allowing her to take advantage of
    other people’s clear and concise expressions while also showing
    that she’d done her reading.
  • She used humor to establish rapport, and drew a number of chuckles
    from the audience. Humor also demonstrated that she listened to the
    question and reacted to it.
  • She used powerful statements and good sound bites. (With content,
    mind you!)
  • Her body language indicated that she paid attention when the other
    candidate spoke.
  • She answered each question directly, and then expounded with more
    information. In contrast, the other candidate sometimes started
    talking and then circled back to ask what the question was again.
  • Examples from international politics strengthened her case.


I learned a lot from the conversation afterwards, as Simon and Ian
discussed a few of the points that were raised. I need to develop
political thinking. It’s a great way to practice critical thought.

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