Talk of the town
I enjoyed Ira Wells’s thoughtful essay on the recent Munk debate between Steve Bannon and David Frum (“The Night Steve Bannon Came to Toronto,” thewalrus.ca). Although, as the chair of the Munk Debates, I obviously don’t share Wells’s skepticism about some of the goals and practices of our series, it was gratifying to see someone rigorously analyze the content and tenor of Bannon and Frum’s hour-and-a-half exchange. Much like The Walrus, the Munk Debates exists to encourage public discussion of difficult and challenging ideas. The purpose of such an activity isn’t necessarily to change minds. Rather, it is about sustaining a civic culture capable of seeing across ideological divides that threaten to overwhelm our democracy.
Toronto, ON “threatened status” felt by many white Americans, impending climate-change catastrophes, and the proliferation of anti-government groups all suggest the strong possibility of a breakdown of US society. Marche’s portrait of Canada is far more hopeful. But he concludes that the country’s overreliance on and entanglement with the US may threaten its survival. To be sure, Canada is “affected by every twitch and grunt” of its neighbour, as Pierre Elliott Trudeau once put it. At the same time, we must also be cautious about evaluating the current state of Canadian politics solely through an American lens. There is still much work to be done in addressing, as Marche puts it, “all our evident hypocrisies.” Arjun Tremblay