I know, I know, you’d rather watch the Grey Cup game, so I’ll make this quick.
Yesterday, Ms Soapbox and a friend judged the final round in the Sir Winston Churchill High School Debate Competition. The competition was hosted by the Alberta Debate and Speech Association and The Winston Churchill Society and included teams from 12 schools across the city.
The students were intelligent, articulate, and passionate.
And Ms Soapbox discovered (quite by accident) that everything you need to know about how to survive in Alberta’s polarizing political environment you can learn in Debate Club.
The rules of debate are simple:
- The Government defines the proposition (say for example, NDP energy policies will result in a pipeline to the West Coast) and sets out three arguments to support of the proposition.
- The Opposition sets out three arguments that undermine the Government’s position.
- The Government and the Opposition then rebut each other’s positions.
- Each side must let the other side ask questions but doesn’t need to answer more than a couple because the point of asking questions is to disrupt the speaker, not to gain further knowledge.
- The most important rule is this: “The winner isn’t the one who gets the maddest or cries the most, it’s the one who is respectful, believable, witty and confident. The winner is the one you trust.*
We could apply the rules of debate, step by step, to the NDP and UCP positions on Burnaby’s attempt to delay the Trans Mountain pipeline, but I know you want to get back to the Grey Cup so let’s cut to the chase and go directly to the last rule which defines the “winner”.
In her speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Rachel Notley said, “British Columbians have legitimate questions about this project and they deserve legitimate answers.” She said instead of threatening each other and retreating within our borders we should be reaching across party lines to support a project that serves the interest of all Canadians.
Jason Kenney is deeply critical of her approach. He wants her to be more aggressive and confrontational. He would threaten BC with “consequences” which include cutting off oil and gas exports from Alberta to BC if BC refuses to roll over.
Albertans have a choice. They can support the political leader who is respectful and confident or the one who gets mad and cries the most.
Mr Kenney may understand the rules of gutter politics, but in today’s Alberta that’s not enough.
Hey Jason, maybe it’s time you joined the Debate Club.
*Comment made by a coach during Judges’ training Nov 25, 2017