Yesterday, I made the trek into CBC Toronto to watch the Canada Reads final debates. (Yup, that sure is me right behind Jian Ghomeshi’s shoulder.) Although this year’s debate has not been without controversy, specifically the incendiary comments made by Anne-France Goldwater, I am so glad I made the trip into town to catch the debate live.
I’ve never been a very political person. I know little about Iranian or Chilean politics so am completely unqualified to comment on what Ms Goldwater said about Prisoner of Tehran or Something Fierce. However, I do agree with the panelist, Shad, (who is this amazing guy?) that if the debate had been shutdown, the message would be sent to Canadians that it isn’t okay to disagree or to voice certain opinions in this country.
The most moving moment of the week for me came in the final few minutes of the Q & A section of yesterday’s debate when Arlene Dickson, star of Dragon’s Den, spoke about why Canadians ought to read books.
“People who haven’t read and aren’t considering picking up a book again because they live in that short text world, need to understand that when they get up in Canada, that they are living in the best country of the world, and that we stand on the shoulders of giants. And that’s why we live in the best country in the world. And the giants are the people who are willing to put themselves out there and share with us the journeys they’ve been on so that we can become better as a nation. To me that’s what Canada is about. We are about listening and understanding and learning as a multi-cultural unit and taking the voices of the individual and making it into something amazing. So read books. It is so important.”
Arlene’s passion brought me to tears.
The experience of being in a studio for a live taping was fun, but what I take away from this past week and indeed, the weeks leading up to the debates, is that books matter and I’ve been reminded of the power of the written word. Fellow writers, it can’t be overstated; as storytellers we have a responsibility to tell stories, stories that shine mirrors back at ourselves and our world, stories that move and motivate and resonate. Books are relevant.
Each of the four debates, Q & A sessions, and panelist confessionals can be found at the Canada Reads website. Whether you agree with what the panelist say, I promise they will make you think.