Is it true that Cana­di­ans are swag­ger lag­gards, and should we care?

Justin Trudeau thinks Cana­di­ans need to be better at sell­ing our virtues on the world stage. He’s right about that, but he picked the wrong word to ex­plain it

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Opinion -

From the Hal­i­fax Chron­i­cle Her­ald:

Do Canada and Cana­di­ans re­ally need to show “a little more swag­ger” when it comes to pro­mot­ing their achieve­ments to the world?

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau thinks so. Or least he said so — maybe with a bit of the­atri­cal hy­per­bole and with­out the ben­e­fit of a dic­tio­nary — at a re­cent con­fer­ence spon­sored by e-com­merce heavy­weight Shopify in Toronto.

Trudeau was es­sen­tially do­ing a light rah-rah num­ber — more cheer­leader than swag­gerer — for our IT de­vel­op­ers and en­trepreneurs, lament­ing that their in­no­va­tions too of­ten get bought up at an early stage by for­eign gi­ants, rather than at­tract­ing lo­cal cap­i­tal to grow on their own in Canada. True enough.

His quickie, not-so-awe­some fix was that “We need to have just a little more swag­ger as a coun­try, a little more of an abil­ity to pro­mote and demon­strate how awe­some we are. We don’t of­ten do that. We don’t do that enough.”

Of course, Con­ser­va­tive MP Erin O’Toole was quick to jump on this novel in­ter­pre­ta­tion of swag­ger­ing as great mar­ket­ing and a good in­di­ca­tor of gen­eral awe­some­ness, in­stead of, well, an ar­ro­gant and preen­ing sort of strut­ting.

Par­lia­ment, as we know, ex­ists for just such pur­poses.

And Trudeau, of course, had to up the ante, re­spond­ing with what some have called an “im­pas­sioned speech” in de­fence of swag­ger as “Cana­di­ans be­ing strong and proud on the world stage” and some­thing baf­fling to the Tories.

“No, we will not apol­o­gize for swag­ger­ing when it comes to talk­ing about Canada and be­ing con­fi­dent in the future we are build­ing to­gether,” Trudeau in­toned, with all the melo­drama of “Yes, Vir­ginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

If any­thing, it was comic — a soap bub­ble of a na­tion­al­ist speech that just wouldn’t sup­port the puff of mock se­ri­ous­ness in­vested in it.

But get­ting back to swag­ger, is this re­ally what the world needs from Canada? And is it the best, or a re­motely cred­i­ble, way for Cana­di­ans to pro­mote their abil­i­ties and ac­com­plish­ments and to sell their goods and ser­vices abroad?

Well, it’s no on both counts. There is no lack of swag­ger on the world stage th­ese days and, frankly, it is not as­so­ci­ated by most peo­ple with abil­ity or ac­com­plish­ment.

In­deed, in busi­ness or in gov­ern­ment, swag­ger is some­thing most of us iden­tify with peo­ple who do not know what they are do­ing, not peo­ple who do.

It is a com­pen­sa­tion mech­a­nism for in­com­pe­tence. It is strongly cor­re­lated with BS. It isn’t likely to win you ea­ger part­ners or cus­tomers.

And at the per­sonal level, it is fre­quently the mark of be­ing a jerk. Swag­ger is not a joy for oth­ers to be around. It gets in the way of real com­mu­ni­ca­tion, un­der­stand­ing and re­spect.

So let’s be com­pe­tent and ac­com­plished and be con­fi­dent in that. And firm about do­ing things right, with­out the hype. Those qual­i­ties may not make you fa­mous. But they make you necessary, even es­sen­tial.

And in state­craft and busi­ness, that’s better than a swag­ger­ing ego, strut­ting nois­ily to­ward dis­as­ter.

But get­ting back to swag­ger, is this re­ally what the world needs from Canada? And is it the best, or a re­motely cred­i­ble, way for Cana­di­ans to pro­mote their abil­i­ties and ac­com­plish­ments

and to sell their goods and ser­vices abroad

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.