Transcript: Are Democracies Fighting For Survival? | Jun 24, 2021

An animated pale blue slate reads "The Democracy Agenda. A TVO and Toronto Star partnership."

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted brown tie.

A caption on screen reads "Are democracies fighting for survival? @spaikin, @theagenda"

Steve says THERE ARE FEW PEOPLE THAT WE WELCOME TO OUR AIRWAVES WHO NEED NO INTRODUCTION AT ALL. BUT WRITER MARGARET ATWOOD IS ONE SUCH PERSON. A PARAGON OF CANADIAN LITERATURE WITH BOOKS AND AWARDS TOO MANY TO NAME HERE, AND WHOSE NOVEL, THE HANDMAID'S TALE, IS NOW AN EMMY AWARD WINNING TELEVISION SERIES OF THE SAME NAME. AND WITH THAT, WE ARE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME MARGARET ATWOOD BACK TO OUR AIRWAVES FROM THE ANNEX IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL, TO TALK ABOUT DEMOCRACY PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE.

Margaret is in her early eighties, with short curly gray hair. She's wearing a black sweater and a pink shirt.

Steve continues AND IT'S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. HOW ARE YOU?

Margaret says VERY WELL. AND HOW ARE YOU, STEVE?

Steve says I'M, YOU KNOW, NOT BAD CONSIDERING THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I THINK IS THE ANSWER I GET TO SAY MOST TIMES OVER THE PAST 15 MONTHS OR SO. I THINK YOU HAVE 'FESSED UP IN THE PAST TO THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE VOTED FOR, I THINK, FOUR DIFFERENT PARTIES ON THE NATIONAL SCENE. SO WHY DON'T WE START WITH THIS? AM I TALKING TO ONE OF THE RARE, PERSUADABLE, ECUMENICAL VOTERS LEFT IN CANADA?

The caption changes to "Margaret Atwood. Writer."

Margaret says THAT'S RIGHT. SO, I LOOK AT WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY SAY THEY'RE GOING TO DO, AND I ALSO LOOK AT WHETHER IN THE PAST WE'VE GOT ANY INFORMATION AS TO WHETHER THEY ACTUALLY DID WHAT THEY SAID THEY WERE GONNA DO. AND I VOTE ACCORDING TO THAT AND ALSO TO WHO'S RUNNING IN MY RIDING.

Steve says SO MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO BE VERY TRIBAL TODAY IN HOW THEY VOTE. WHY ARE YOU NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE?

Margaret says I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER BEEN VERY TRIBAL AND I WAS BROUGHT UP BY THE SCIENTISTS, AND I HAVE A RESPECT FOR EVIDENCE, AND WHAT WE USED TO OLD FASHIONEDLY REFER TO AS FACTS.

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Steve says YEAH, FACTS ARE STILL FASHIONABLE ON THIS PROGRAM. I'LL LET YOU KNOW THAT RIGHT OFF THE TOP HERE. WE LIKE FACTS. FACTS ARE FRIENDLY. YOU HAVE PARTICIPATED IN, IF YOU ADD MUNICIPAL, PROVINCIAL, AND FEDERAL, DOZENS OF ELECTIONS OVER THE YEARS.

Margaret says YEAH, A LOT.

Steve says CAN YOU RECALL WHICH ELECTION GAVE YOU THE MOST JOYOUS JOLT?

Margaret says THEY DON'T GIVE ME JOYOUS JOLTS. THEY GIVE ME SIGHS OF RELIEF SOMETIMES. BUT NOT, UM, EXACTLY JOY. SO, LET US... DOES IT HAVE TO BE A CANADIAN ELECTION?

An animated caption reads "The Democracy Agenda. A TVO and Toronto Star partnership."

Steve says WELL, I WAS THINKING OF THAT. BUT IF YOU'VE GOT SOMETHING IN MIND ELSEWHERE, I'M ALL EARS.

Margaret says WELL, I THINK BIDEN WAS PRETTY GOOD. THAT WAS A BIG SIGH OF RELIEF. NOT THAT IT'S OVER, BUT, UM, FOUR MORE YEARS OF WHAT THEY HAD JUST HAD WOULD'VE PROBABLY MEANT AN EVEN FLIMSIER DEMOCRACY THAN THEY CURRENTLY HAVE SOUTH OF THE BORDER. AND OF COURSE, EVERYTHING WASHES OVER ONTO US. TRENDS... TRENDS DO THAT.

Steve says MM-HM, DO I INFER FROM THAT THE 2016 US ELECTION WAS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE IN YOUR LIFETIME?

Margaret says IT WAS A SURPRISE. UM, THE AL GORE ELECTION WAS PRETTY DISAPPOINTING AND TALK ABOUT IFFY ELECTION RESULTS. UM... SO THAT WAS DISAPPOINTING AND THINGS WOULD'VE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT HAD HE WON. BUT 2016, I LOOKED AT THE CLOSING REMARKS OF THE TWO CANDIDATES AND I THOUGHT, "THIS IS NOT GONNA BE A SLAM DUNK FOR HILLARY CLINTON.

Steve says YOU WERE RIGHT ABOUT THAT.

Margaret says WELL, YEAH, THIS PERSON HAD A VERY PERSUASIVE TELEVISION MANNER. AND, UM, YOU CAN NEVER RULE THAT OUT. HOWEVER, IT DID AFFECT MY OWN PERSONAL FUTURE IN THAT, HAD THE HANDMAID'S TALE TELEVISION SERIES LAUNCHED INTO A WORLD IN WHICH HILLARY CLINTON WAS THE PRESIDENT, THE REACTION TO IT WOULD'VE BEEN QUITE DIFFERENT.

Steve says NOW THAT'S FASCINATING. YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO LET ME FOLLOW UP ON THAT, BECAUSE I WONDER IF IN HINDSIGHT, YOU'D'VE BEEN PREPARED TO MAKE THE TRADE OFF OF HILLARY AS PRESIDENT AND NO SUCCESS FOR HANDMAID'S TALE, OR LET'S SAY A LOT LESS, VERSUS TRUMP AS PRESIDENT AND YOUR BOOK SLASH TV SHOW GOES THROUGH THE ROOF. WHICH OPTION?

Margaret says OH, WELL, I WOULD'VE TAKEN THE HILLARY AS PRESIDENT OF COURSE. I'M TOO OLD TO BE TOO WORRIED ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF THESE SORTS OF VENTURES OF MINE. BUT, I THINK IT WOULD'VE BEEN A WELL-RECEIVED SHOW ANYWAY, BECAUSE IT WAS VERY WELL MADE AND PRETTY GRIPPING, BUT THE EMOTIONAL CONNECTION WITH IT WOULD'VE BEEN DIFFERENT. IT WOULD'VE BEEN "LOOK WHAT WE MISSED BY A HAIR." RATHER THAN, "OH, LOOK OUT. HERE IT COMES." LIKE THAT.

Steve says HOW ABOUT IN CANADA? WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE ELECTION OUTCOME IN CANADA?

Margaret says OH, I DON'T LIKE TO BE MEAN TO POLITICIANS THAT ARE OUT OF POWER. BUT, STEPHEN HARPER GETTING ELECTED WAS NOT A MOMENT OF GREAT HAPPINESS FOR ME.

Steve says NOW, YOU'RE NOT PUTTING TRUMP AND HARPER IN THE SAME BUCKET ARE YOU?

Margaret says NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, I WOULD NEVER DO THAT. NO, UM, HARPER IS A FAR DIFFERENT SORT OF PERSON. HARPER WAS NOT A REALITY DENIER ON THE LEVEL... AND HARPER'S, UM, VOTERS WERE NOT REALITY DENIERS ON THE LEVEL OF THIS THING THAT'S GOING ON IN THE STATES. NOWHERE NEAR. SO, WE DIDN'T SEE ANY STORMING OF THE CAPITOL. WE DIDN'T ' SEE ANY "I REALLY WON THE ELECTION AND IT WAS STOLEN FROM ME." FROM HARPER. THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF POLITICIAN THAT HE WAS.

Steve says I WONDER IF PART OF THE REASON, AND I THINK LAST TIME YOU AND I TALKED I PUT THIS TO YOU, AND YOU DIDN'T DISAGREE WITH ME, SO I'M GONNA STICK WITH THIS. I'VE ALWAYS SEEN YOU AS A BIT OF LIKE A BILL DAVIS RED TORY. AND, MY HUNCH IS THAT YOU DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME FOR STEPHEN HARPER BECAUSE HE, ALONG WITH PRESTON MANNING, ESSENTIALLY PUT A STAKE THROUGH THE HEART OF THE OLD PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA, AND THAT'S WHY YOU DON'T LIKE HIM. AM I CLOSE ON THIS?

Margaret says UM, I'LL TAKE IT. I DON'T THINK I'M EXACTLY A RED TORY EITHER. ALTHOUGH, CERTAINLY GRAHAM SAID THAT THAT'S WHAT HE ALWAYS WAS, BUT HE BECAUSE THEY RED TORIES KIND OF CEASED TO EXIST, HE THEREFORE WENT EITHER GREEN OR, UM, NDP. SO, YEAH, A LOT OF THE THINGS THAT THE RED TORIES DID WHEN THEY WERE THERE, WOULD NOW BE CONSIDERED GREEN OR NDP-ISH. AND THAT'S THE KIND OF THING THAT THE, UM, THAT THE NEWLY REARRANGED CONSERVATIVE PARTY WAS AGAINST.

Steve says THERE CERTAINLY IS A LOT OF OVERLAP...

Margaret says SO MULRONEY...

Steve says IN THAT VENN DIAGRAM.

Margaret says YEAH, SO WHATEVER YOU MAY THINK OF MULRONEY, HE WAS A CONSERVATIONIST.

Steve says AGREED.

Margaret says HE UNDERSTOOD THAT. HE DID THAT.

Steve says GOT THE PRIZE FOR BEING THE GREENEST PRIME MINISTER OF THE LAST HALF CENTURY.

Margaret says WELL, THERE YOU GO.

Steve says YEP.

(LAUGHING)

Margaret says THAT'S WHY I LOOK AT WHAT PEOPLE DO AND SAY RATHER THAN JUST THE TRIBAL ASPECTS.

Steve says MM-HM, I WONDER IF YOU'VE HAD A CHANCE YET TO MEET THE CURRENT PREMIER OF ONTARIO. CURRENT PREMIER.

Margaret says YOU MEAN, UM, DOUG FORD.

Steve says DOUG FORD IS HIS NAME, YES.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Steve says NOW, I KNOW WHY YOU DID THAT. BECAUSE ONCE UPON A TIME WHEN HE WAS ON TORONTO CITY COUNCIL, HE SAID HE WOULDN'T KNOW YOU IF HE BUMPED INTO YOU ON THE STREET. SO, YOU'RE JUST PRETENDING A BIT NOT TO KNOW HIM THERE. I GET IT. GOOD JOB.

Margaret says OKAY, NO, WELL, ACTUALLY, HE DID IT AT THAT TIME, BECAUSE HE WASN'T... HE HADN'T BEEN ELECTED AS ANYTHING YET. HE DID JUMP OUT FROM BEHIND A PALM TREE AFTER HE HAD DONE THAT TO SHOW THAT WE WERE ALL PALSY-WALSY, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE WAS SOMEBODY DOING A PHOTO-OP OF THE TWO OF US. SO, YEAH, SO I DID GET AMBUSHED BY DOUG FORD AT ONE POINT. UM, BUT I FORESTALLED ANY NEGATIVE COMMENT BY PUTTING THAT ON TWITTER AND SAYING "SOMEBODY JUMPED AT ME FROM OUT BEHIND A PALM TREE." (LAUGHING) I'M A MEAN PERSON.

(STEVE LAUGHING)

Steve says WELL, HE'S BEEN IN POWER THREE YEARS. WE'RE LESS THAN A YEAR TO THE NEXT ONTARIO ELECTION.

Margaret says YEAH.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE A VIEW AS TO HOW WELL HE'S DOING?

Margaret says UH, WELL, WHAT IS THIS THING ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO BUY AD TIME WHEN YOU WANT TO? THIS IS SOMETHING NEW.

Steve says HE HAS USED THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION TO SET ASIDE A COURT DECISION SO THAT HE CAN PUT HIS CAMPAIGN ELECTION EXPENSES LAW BACK IN AS OPPOSED TO THE ONE KATHLEEN WYNNE PUT IN.

Margaret says SO, WHY IS THAT NOT STALINIST?

Steve says WELL, IT'S LEGAL. I MEAN, THE NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE... I'M NOT TAKING POSITION ON IT OBVIOUSLY, BUT THERE IS A CLAUSE IN THE CHARTER THAT ALLOWS YOU TO DO IT, AND HE'S DONE IT.

The caption changes to "Margaret Atwood, @MargaretAtwood."

Margaret says YEAH, UM, LET'S SEE HOW FAVOURABLY THAT IS RECEIVED BY VOTERS. BECAUSE, TO ME, THAT'S AUTOCRATIC, AND YOU ARE RESTRICTING, UM, VOTERS' RIGHTS TO KNOW, AND YOU'RE RESTRICTING OTHER ENTITIES' ABILITY TO SPEND THE MONEY THAT THEY HAVE RAISED TO DO THEIR CAMPAIGNING. YOU'RE RESTRICTING THAT. SO, IS HE GONNA RESTRICT THAT FOR HIMSELF AS WELL?

Steve says WELL, THERE ARE STRICT RULES IN PLACE NOW FOR EVERYBODY. FOR POLITICAL PARTIES, AND FOR THIRD PARTIES, TEACHER UNIONS, OTHER UNIONS, ONTARIO PROUD, ALL THESE OTHER GROUPS, THEY'VE ALL GOT STRICT RULES THEY'VE GOTTA FOLLOW RIGHT NOW.

Margaret says WELL, I GUESS THAT DOESN'T EXTEND TO ORDINARY PEOPLES WHO ARE NOT ORGANIZATIONS USING FOR INSTANCE SOCIAL MEDIA.

Steve says OH, IT DOES ACTUALLY.

Margaret says IT DOES?

Steve says IF YOU WANTED TO RAISE 600,000 dollars AND SPEND IT WITHIN A YEAR OF THE NEXT ELECTION, WHICH WE ARE AT RIGHT NOW, I GUESS WE'RE ABOUT 50 WEEKS TO GO, YOU COULD DO IT IF YOU WANTED.

Margaret says YEAH, BUT WHAT IF I WASN'T RAISING ANY MONEY? WHAT IF I WAS JUST EXPRESSING MYSELF? HOW ABOUT THAT?

Steve says THAT'S STILL ALLOWED.

Margaret says IS THAT ALLOWED?

Steve says THAT'S ALLOWED.

Margaret says I'M SO HAPPY. I'M SO HAPPY TO HEAR THAT.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Steve says WE'RE STILL IN A DEMOCRACY LAST I CHECKED.

Margaret says OH, GOODY. WELL, OKAY, AND LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH THIS THEN, 'CAUSE WE'VE TALKED ABOUT TRIBALISM, AND WE'VE TALKED ABOUT HOW SO MANY PEOPLE IN POLITICS NOWADAYS SEEM TO WANNA GO TO THEIR RESPECTIVE CORNERS AND NOT ENGAGE, NOT COMPROMISE, NOT DISCUSS ANYMORE. THEY JUST WANNA HURL INSULTS AT EACH OTHER. HOW MUCH DO YOU FEAR, AS YEATS PUT IT, THAT "THE CENTRE WILL NOT HOLD."

Margaret says WELL, I DON'T THINK WE'VE BEEN IN A PERIOD SO MUCH LIKE THE 30'S SINCE THE 30'S. SO THERE WAS SOME OF THAT IN THE 50'S WITH MCCARTHYISM, BUT THAT WAS A DIFFERENT KIND OF SHOW. UM, YEAH, I THINK THINGS ARE GETTING QUITE POLARIZED. AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EXTREMISMS GET GOING IS THEY WANT TO ELIMINATE THE MIDDLE. SO THEY WANT TO ELIMINATE PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO RESERVE JUDGEMENT AND WANT TO HEAR WHAT THEY ACTUALLY ARE PROPOSING, RATHER THAN JUST GOING INTO ESSENTIALLY A... SOMETHING THAT RESEMBLES A FOOTBALL TEAM CHEERING SECTION. SO, UM, SO, YEAH, YOU SEE EXTREMISTS PUSHING ONE ANOTHER INTO MORE EXTREME POSITION ON THE "LOOK HOW PURE I AM" AGENDA. AND IF YOU WANT TO READ ABOUT THOSE KINDS OF THINGS HAPPENING, YOU CAN GO BACK AND LOOK AT WHAT WAS HAPPENING DURING THE 30'S, OR YOU CAN READ ABOUT THE RED GUARDS IN CHINA WHO PUSHED EACH OTHER FURTHER AND FURTHER AND THEN ENDED UP IN FACTIONS KILLING ONE ANOTHER. SO, ARE THE EXTREMISTS KILLING THE KINDS OF POLITICAL PARTIES, REASONABLE SORTS OF PEOPLE, MORE OR LESS? ARE THEY KILLING THOSE KINDS OF PARTIES?

Steve says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. HAVE YOU GOT AN ANSWER?

Margaret says NOPE.

Steve says HM.

Margaret says I'M COUNTING ON THE RESILIENCE AND REASONABLENESS OF AVERAGE, MIDDLE OF THE ROAD VOTERS.

Steve says WHO ARE FEWER AND FEWER TODAY IT SEEMS.

Margaret says I'M NOT SURE THAT'S TRUE. I THINK THEY'RE MORE AND MORE SILENT SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO BE ATTACKED AS NAMBY-PAMBY BY THEIR OWN PARTIES.

Steve says HM, I WONDER IF YOU FORESAW SOME OF THIS. AND WE'RE GOING BACK MANY DECADES NOW. UM, I THINK IT WAS IN THE MIDDLE 1980'S WHEN YOU STARTED TO THINK ABOUT, OR YOU STARTED TO WRITE HANDMAID'S TALE.

Margaret says YEAH.

Steve says AND, AND... YOU KNOW, THIS WAS AT A TIME WHERE THE WORLD, ACTUALLY, AS THE 80'S PROGRESSED, WHERE THE BERLIN WALL EVENTUALLY CAME DOWN, AND THE SOVIET UNION DISAPPEARED, AND IT LOOKED LIKE DEMOCRACY WAS DOING RATHER WELL. AND YET, YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT A TIME... YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT A DYSTOPIAN TIME.

Margaret says IT'S TRUE.

Steve says AT THAT TIME. DID YOU HAVE A NOTION THAT DEMOCRACY WAS GOING TO BE FRAGILE NEARLY FOUR DECADES DOWN THE ROAD?

Margaret says IT'S ALWAYS FRAGILE.

(LAUGHING)

Steve says HM.

Margaret says IT'S A VERY FRAGILE GOVERNING FORM. SO EACH GOVERNING FORM HAS ITS OWN FRAGILITIES. UM... MONARCHIES THAT DEPEND ON AN HEIR, YOU KNOW, SOMEBODY WHO'S GONNA BE THE NEXT KING, THEY'RE VERY FRAGILE. THEY'RE VULNERABLE TO NOT HAVING A SUCCESSOR. THEN YOU GET CIVIL WARS. SO, YEAH, DEMOCRACIES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE SOMEWHAT FRAGILE DEPENDING ON THE RULES, AND DEPENDING ON WHETHER YOU ALLOW SUPER PACS AND WHETHER YOU, UM... I THINK THE FIRST BIG DECISION WAS IN THE 19TH CENTURY IN WHICH CORPORATIONS WERE DEEMED TO HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AS PEOPLE.

Steve says HM.

Margaret says NOT ONLY A BAD DECISION, BUT AN UNREAL DECISION, BECAUSE CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE. SO, HOW MUCH IS A DEMOCRACY SUBJECT TO THE PRESSURE OF LOTS, AND LOTS, AND LOTS, AND LOTS OF MONEY? AND, WE HAVE TRIED TO TAKE STEPS IN CANADA TO LIMIT THAT. AND YOU CAN LOOK SOUTH OF THE BORDER AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON'T LIMIT THAT.

Steve says MM-HM, I WOULD LIKE TO FOLLOW UP AND ASK YOU A BIT OF A CHIPPY QUESTION RELATED TO THE NORTH AMERICAN ELECTORATE. AND THAT IS, YOU KNOW, POLLSTERS TELL US THAT ANYWHERE FROM 20 TO 40 PERCENT OF THE ELECTORATE, MAYBE A LITTLE MORE SOME DAYS, UM, WELL, FRANKLY, DON'T THINK A LOT ABOUT MULTICULTURALISM, DON'T THINK THAT GENDER FLUIDITY IS A REAL THING, ARE NOT FANS OF INCREASED IMMIGRATION. AND, I GUESS I WANNA ASK YOU, WHAT KIND OF VOICE DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THAT ARE ENTITLED TO HAVE IN THIS DEMOCRACY.

Margaret says SAME VOICE AS ANYBODY ELSE. THEY GET A VOTE. UM, SO, YOU KNOW, THAT'S HOW DEMOCRACIES ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK. SO, IF 80 PERCENT THOUGHT THAT AND ELECTED THE GOVERNMENT, THEN THAT WOULD BE THE GOVERNMENT THEY HAD ELECTED. AND, YOU AND I MIGHT NOT LIKE THAT, UM, BUT IT WOULD BE A RESULT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. SO, AS I'VE SAID, EVERY GOVERNING FORM HAS GOT ITS FRAGILITIES, AND THAT'S ONE OF THEM. THEY DON'T ALWAYS PRODUCE SOMETHING THAT YOU OR I MIGHT APPROVE OF.

Steve says DO YOU THINK PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE...

Margaret says BUT, BUT THEY HAVE PRODUCED IT, YEAH. RIGHT.

Steve says DO YOU THINK PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR... AND THIS DOES HAPPEN IN SOME CASES. I'M NOT ALLEGING IT IN THIS CASE. BUT, UM, FOR, YOU KNOW, KIND OF SHOVING PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THAT, SHOVING THEIR NOSES IN ISSUES, WHICH ENCOURAGE THEM TO EXPLODE BACK?

Margaret says WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T LIKE THE WORD "PROGRESSIVE."

(LAUGHING)

Steve says OKAY, WHAT SHOULD WE SAY?

Margaret says WHY IS THAT? BECAUSE IT IS BASED ON A BELIEF THAT PROGRESS IS INEVITABLE, THAT THERE'S SUCH A THING AS THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY, AND THAT YOU HAVE TO BE ON IT. AND NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE. SO, HISTORY DOESN'T HAVE SIDES. AND ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GO BACK AND LOOK AT IT, AND ONE DAY YOU'RE ON QUOTES THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY, AND THE NEXT DAY YOU'RE NOT. IT'S MORE LIKE THE REVOLVING WHEEL OF FORTUNE. ONE DAY YOU'RE UP. THE NEXT DAY YOU'RE DOWN. PUBLIC OPINION CHANGES. THINGS THAT WERE APPROVED OF 50 YEARS AGO ARE NOW SOMETHING NOBODY WOULD EVER DO. SO, IT'S LIKE THAT. BUT PROGRESS IS NOT INEVITABLE AND IT'S VERY DEPENDENT ON MATERIAL CONDITIONS. SO, WHEN THERE'S LOTS TO GO AROUND, YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO GET TOLERANT PUBLIC OPINION. WHEN THERE'S LESS TO GO AROUND, PEOPLE GET SCARED. AND YOU WITNESSED THE HOARDING OF TOILET PAPER DURING THE FIRST PHASES OF THE PANDEMIC. YOU KNOW, "MY TOILET PAPER! YOU MAY NOT HAVE MY TOILET PAPER. THIS TOILET PAPER IS MINE." SO IT GOES LIKE THAT AND UNLESS YOU CAN UNIFY PEOPLE AND SAY "ALL RIGHT, WE'RE GONNA HAVE... IT'S WORLD WAR II. WE'RE GONNA HAVE RATION TICKETS FOR THE TOILET PAPER." OR THE BUTTER, SUGAR, MEAT AND CHEESE, UM, SOME PEOPLE ARE GONNA HOARD, 'CAUSE THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO. SO, YEAH, MATERIAL ABUNDANCE, YOU GET A MORE TOLERANT SOCIETY AS LONG AS THE MONEY IS SPREAD REASONABLY HORIZONTALLY. IF IT'S ALL CONCENTRATED AT THE TOP AS HAS INCREASINGLY HAPPENED, YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A VERY DISCONTENTED LOWER LAYER. AND, THAT'S WHEN YOU GET THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

Steve says WELL, IT SOUNDS TO ME, AND IF I'VE DRAWN AN INCORRECT INFERENCE, I KNOW YOU'LL TELL ME SO, BUT IT SOUNDS TO ME LIKE YOU DISAGREE WITH MARTIN LUTHER KING WHO SAID "HISTORY'S ARROW IS ALWAYS POINTING TOWARDS JUSTICE." YOU'RE DISAGREEING WITH BARACK OBAMA WHO SAID, "YES, WE TAKE ONE STEP BACKWARDS, BUT THEN TWO STEPS FORWARD." HE SEEMS TO THINK THERE'S AN INEVITABILITY THAT WE'RE GONNA END UP IN THE RIGHT PLACE. YOU DON'T AGREE?

Margaret says YEAH, BUT THOSE PEOPLE WERE CHEERING ON THEIR TROOPS. SO, I DON'T HAVE ANY TROOPS.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Margaret says OR NEED TO CHEER THEM ON. I'M NOT STANDING FOR ELECTION. I WOULD LOVE TO BELIEVE THOSE THINGS, BUT, EVIDENCE DOES NOT NECESSARILY BEAR THEM OUT. I THINK WE HAVE TO ACT AS THOUGH IT'S POSSIBLE FOR THE ARROW TO ALWAYS POINT UPWARDS. WE HAVE TO ACT THAT WAY BECAUSE IF WE GIVE UP ON THAT, AND DON'T DO ANYTHING, IT'S GONNA POINT THE OTHER WAY. SO, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREA OF LET'S, UM, MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR THE HUMAN SPECIES TO CONTINUE LIVING ON THIS PLANET, I HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT'S POSSIBLE, OR ELSE I WOULD STOP MAKING ANY EFFORT IN THAT DIRECTION. SO, SO, SURE, THE EASTER BUNNY EXISTS. HOPPITY-HOP. YOU KNOW IT DOESN'T REALLY. BUT YOU HAVE TO, UM, ACT AS THOUGH IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE.

Steve says WELL, SOME PEOPLE THINK TRUMPISM HAPPENED BECAUSE AMERICA JUST GOT TOO MUCH CHANGE TOO QUICKLY, TOO RADICALLY, AND THEREFORE THERE WAS... WHAT'S THAT LAW? I GUESS NEWTON'S LAW. "EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION." AND THERE YOU GO.

Margaret says SURE.

Steve says YOU BUYING THAT?

Margaret says SURE. NO. NOT ENTIRELY.

Steve says HM.

Margaret says I THINK HE TAPPED INTO SOMETHING THAT WAS ALREADY HAPPENING. AND, UM, HE LEVERAGED THAT, YOU KNOW, AND MADE A DEAL OUT OF IT, BUT, UNLESS PEOPLE WERE OPEN TO THOSE KINDS OF EMOTIONS ANYWAY, UNLESS THEY'RE ALREADY OPEN TO THOSE EMOTIONS, HE WOULDN'T HAVE GOT ANY TRACTION. SO, I THINK HE HAPPENED PARTLY BECAUSE HE WAS AN ENTERTAINER. SO, PEOPLE HAD FUN AT HIS RALLIES. IT WAS FUN. YOU COULD LET OFF STEAM. YOU COULD, YOU KNOW, WEAR HATS. YOU COULD ACT AS IF YOU WERE AT A SPORTS EVENT REALLY. AND THE OTHER POLITICIANS NOT HAVING A BACKGROUND IN ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION AS HE DID, THE OTHER CANDIDATES COULDN'T DO THAT. SO, THAT'S HOW HE GOT RID OF ALL THE OTHER REPUBLICANS. AND HOW HE... HE DIDN'T ACTUALLY WIN THE POPULAR VOTE AGAINST HILLARY CLINTON.

Steve says NOPE, NEITHER TIME.

Margaret says NO, BUT HE, UH, WAS ABLE TO GET ENOUGH ELECTORAL VOTES TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT. AND I THINK THAT HAPPENED PARTLY BECAUSE HE WENT TO PLACES THAT SHE HAD TAKEN FOR GRANTED, AND, TAPPED INTO PEOPLE'S DISSATISFACTION WITH THE FACT THAT THEY WERE BEING OVERLOOKED. SO I DON'T THINK IT'S A LET'S BLAME THE VICTIM, UM, ON DIVERSITY, AND GENDER IDENTITY, AND ALL THOSE THINGS. I THINK THOSE ARE DISTRACTIONS ABOUT WHY HE MAY HAVE WON. I THINK HE WON BECAUSE HE WENT TO THOSE PLACES AND SAID "I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN YOU."

Steve says I DID MENTION OFF THE TOP THAT WE WERE GONNA TALK POLITICS PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE, AND WE'VE DONE TWO OF THOSE THINGS. SO LET'S DO THE THIRD ONE NOW. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT DESPITE ALL OF THE WONDROUS TECHNOLOGY THAT SURROUNDS US, AND YOU'VE BECOME QUITE PROFICIENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA YOURSELF, AND THE AMAZING TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE NO DOUBT STILL TO COME IN THE FUTURE, THAT THERE SEEMS TO BE, AT THE MOMENT, A LOT OF FEAR AND NOT ALL THAT MUCH EXCITEMENT ABOUT THE FUTURE. HOW COME?

Margaret says WELL, I THINK IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THE MESSAGE OF THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS, WHICH WAS KNOWN TO BIOLOGISTS BACK IN THE 50'S, HAS FINALLY PENETRATED POPULAR CONSCIOUSNESS AND WE ARE ALSO SEEING A LOT OF WEIRD CLIMATE AND WEATHER EVENTS RIGHT NOW. SO, THAT IS, I THINK ONE OF THE REASONS THAT PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE. AND I WOULD PUT IT NUMBER ONE, TOP OF THE LIST. AND, IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, I THINK THE FACT THAT IT IS SO DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF RIGHT NOW AT A TIME WHEN, IF IT DOES NOT PULL UP ITS SOCKS, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THE DOMINANCE OF CHINA IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS. SO I THINK THAT MAKES PEOPLE QUESTION THE, NUMBER ONE, PRE-EMINENCE OF THE UNITED STATES, NUMBER TWO, THE COHERENCE AND STABILITY OF THE UNITED STATES AND ITS OWN... AND ONE THING IT USED TO BE VERY GOOD AT DOING WAS BOOSTERISM. "YOU KNOW, LET'S HAVE A BIG FOURTH OF JULY PARADE. LET'S CELEBRATE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY. WE LOOKED REALLY GOOD DURING THE COLD WAR BECAUSE EVERYBODY THOUGHT WE WERE A BEACON OF LIGHT AND LIBERTY." WHAT'S HAPPENED TO THAT? SO, UNLESS THEY CAN GATHER TOGETHER AGAINST A UNIFYING STORY, THEY'RE GOING TO BE DIVIDED LIKE THIS, AND FIGHTING AMONGST THEMSELVES AT A TIME WHEN THE WORLD ACTUALLY NEEDS A STRONG DEMOCRATIC LEADER.

Steve says WE'RE A LONG WAY FROM RONALD REAGAN'S SHINING CITY ON A HILL, AREN'T WE?

Margaret says AND, SO WAS RONALD REAGAN, BUT...

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Margaret says THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.

Steve says THAT'S ANOTHER STORY. WELL, OKAY.

Margaret says YOU KNOW WHERE HE GOT... YOU KNOW WHERE HE GOT THAT QUOTE?

Steve says NO, TELL ME.

Margaret says OKAY, "CITY UPON A HILL, A LIGHT TO ALL NATIONS." IS A 17TH CENTURY AMERICAN PURITAN QUOTE. IT'S NOT ACTUALLY IN THE BIBLE. IT'S TWO BITS OF SCRIPTURE STUCK TOGETHER. BUT THAT IS WHAT THE PURITANS THOUGHT THEY WERE BUILDING WHEN THEY FIRST SET UP IN NEW ENGLAND: A CITY UPON A HILL, A LIGHT TO ALL NATIONS. SO, RONALD REAGAN WAS DELIBERATELY QUOTING THAT AND GIVING PEOPLE A LITTLE HINT ABOUT WHERE HE WAS COMING FROM.

Steve says NOW, I WOULD ASSUME YOU'D APPROVE OF THAT, 'CAUSE THE PURITANS, THOSE ARE YOUR PEEPS, AREN'T THEY?

Margaret says OH, YOU DON'T ALWAYS APPROVE OF YOUR PEEPS.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Steve says OKAY.

Margaret says YOU KNOW THAT. JUST 'CAUSE THEY'RE YOUR PEEPS IT ALLOWS YOU TO SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT THEM. YOU KNOW THAT.

(LAUGHING)

Steve says OKAY, FAIR ENOUGH.

Margaret says YEAH, SO THEY WERE... THERE'S PLUSES AND MINUSES TO THEM LIKE EVERYBODY. SO, THERE WERE SOME THINGS THAT THEY COULD BE ADMIRED FOR, AND OTHER THINGS THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE ADMIRED FOR. AND, I'VE STUDIED THEM WITH GREAT INTEREST, PARTICULARLY THE SALEM WITCHCRAFT EPISODE, AND HOW THAT PLAYED OUT, AND HOW IT GOT REVERSED, AND WHO APOLOGIZED FOR IT AFTERWARDS. VERY INTERESTING STUDY.

Steve says HM, I SHOULD ASK YOU, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO WANT ME TO BE ASKING YOU ABOUT THE HANDMAID'S TALE, SO I DO WANT TO ASK YOU AT LEAST THIS MUCH ABOUT IT. WHICH IS, OF COURSE, IT IS SET IN A WORLD OF STERILITY, NOT JUST MORAL STERILITY, BUT ACTUAL STERILITY. AND, I MEAN, I DON'T WANNA BE OVERLY APOCALYPTIC ABOUT THIS, BUT WE DID DO A PROGRAM ON IT NOT THAT LONG AGO HERE ON TVO, IN WHICH THERE ARE A LOT OF CONCERNS THAT THE SOCIETY YOU DEPICT IS NOT THAT FAR AWAY FROM US. I MEAN, IN THE WESTERN WORLD, I THINK ONLY ISRAEL IS RIGHT NOW REPRODUCING AT A RATE TO REPLACE THEIR POPULATION. WE CERTAINLY AREN'T IN CANADA. THEY'RE CERTAINLY NOT IN PLACES LIKE ITALY AND IRELAND. AND ANYWAY, THE LIST GOES ON. WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS SAYS ABOUT THE FUTURE?

Margaret says OH, BOY. PEOPLE ARE REALLY STUDYING THAT. UM, SO, YEAH. THAT'S ANOTHER REASON THAT PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE. SO, ALTHOUGH I'M AN OLD PERSON, LET ME SAY THAT A SOCIETY THAT'S ALL OLD PEOPLE IS NOT... (LAUGHING) IS NOT GOING TO BE VERY, UM... YEAH, HOW SHALL WE SAY? PEOPLE INVEST THEIR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE IN YOUNG PEOPLE. AND IF THERE AREN'T ANY YOUNG PEOPLE, WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN TO THOSE HOPES FOR THE FUTURE? SO, WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY LOOKING AT? ARE WE LOOKING AT, UM, WOMEN WHO FEEL THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO HAVE THAT MANY CHILDREN, OR ARE WE LOOKING AT MALE STERILITY? AND IT DOES SEEM TO BE THAT WE ARE LOOKING AT BOTH.

Steve says MM-HM, CAN I...

Margaret says THIS IS GOING TO BE A BIG MOTIF IN THE YEARS TO COME AND YOU'RE GOING TO SEE A LOT OF THESE THINGS RETURN, LIKE INCREASED BABY BONUSES, AND, UM, CHILDCARE PROGRAMS, BECAUSE THE WAY THINGS ARE NOW, A LOT OF WOMEN JUST CANNOT AFFORD, A LOT OF FAMILIES CANNOT AFFORD TO HAVE THOSE KINDS OF CHILDREN.

Steve says MM-HM, WE ARE GOING THROUGH A TIME RIGHT NOW WHERE WE ARE HAVING A RE-THINKING ABOUT THE ADVISABILITY OF HAVING STATUES TO PEOPLE LIKE SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD, AND EGERTON RYERSON UP IN PUBLIC. AND, AS YOU WELL KNOW, THE STATUES ARE BEING TAKEN DOWN, IN SOME CASES LEGALLY, AND SOME CASES, JUST THROUGH VANDALISM. DO YOU HAVE A VIEW AS TO HOW WE SHOULD BE HANDLING ALL OF THIS?

Margaret says WELL NOW, THERE WAS A REASON I STARTED THE TESTAMENTS, THE SEQUEL TO THE HANDMAID'S TALE, WITH THE UNVEILING OF A STATUE. AND IT IS A STATUE TO LYDIA, WHO'S ONE OF THE NARRATORS, AND WE FIND THAT STATUE MUCH LATER ON IN THE HISTORICAL NOTES NOT IN GOOD CONDITION. SO, WE REALIZE THAT THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A VANDALISM MOMENT. SO, I'VE WATCHED A LOT OF REGIMES FALL. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHEN REGIMES FALL, IS THAT STATUES COME DOWN. SO, YOU PROBABLY REMEMBER CEAUSESCU, THE TOPPLING OF THAT STATUE, PEOPLE HITTING IT WITH SHOES. UM...

Steve says SADDAM HUSSEIN.

Margaret says SADDAM.

Steve says IRON FELIX.

Margaret says STALIN.

Steve says YEP.

Margaret says YEP, A LOT. WHEN... AND IT GOES WAY, WAY, WAY BACK. SO YOU CAN GO BACK TO ANCIENT EGYPT AND FIND THESE COLOSSUS STATUES BURIED WITH THEIR NOSES BROKEN OFF AND THEIR INSCRIPTIONS CHISELED OFF. SO, NEW PEOPLE COME IN. THEY WANT TO REWRITE HISTORY. THEY ALWAYS WANT TO, AND...

Steve says BUT THOSE ARE REGIME CHANGES. WE HAVEN'T HAD A REGIME CHANGE IN CANADA.

Margaret says YEAH, IT'S NOT AN OFFICIAL REGIME CHANGE, BUT IT'S A REGIME CHANGE.

Steve says HM.

(LAUGHING)

Margaret says SO, IT'S ANOTHER WAVE OF PUBLIC OPINION COMING IN. AND, I THINK GARY YOUNGE HAD AN EXCELLENT PIECE ABOUT STATUES IN THE GUARDIAN. HE SAID "LET'S TAKE THEM ALL DOWN. "LET'S TAKE THEM ALL DOWN, BECAUSE WHAT DO THEY DO? THEY OSSIFY HISTORY." NOW, I WOULDN'T SAY TAKE THEM ALL DOWN, 'CAUSE WE ALL HAVE OUR LITTLE FAVOURITES. I LIKE THE STATUE OF AL PURDY IN QUEEN'S PARK. AND THE STATUE OF AL PURDY EVEN HAS A TWITTER ACCOUNT IN WHICH THE STATUE SAYS THINGS LIKE, UM, "PIGEON SAT ON ME."

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Margaret says EVEN THOUGH IT'S ACTUALLY A STATUE. SO, WHAT ARE WE GONNA MAKE STATUES OF? WHAT ARE WE GONNA COMMEMORATE? WHAT IS THE MESSAGE WITH ANY GIVEN STATUE OR PIECE OF PUBLIC ART? AND, UM, HOW ABOUT THE STATUE TO THE CANADIAN AIR FORCE THAT'S ON QUEEN'S PARK? HOW ABOUT THAT? ARE WE GONNA TAKE THAT DOWN? IS IT A GLORIFICATION OF WAR? I DON'T THINK SO. BUT THEN I'M A VERY OLD FASHIONED. WHAT ABOUT WAR MEMORIALS? WHAT ABOUT THE CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM, WHICH IS A BIG, GIANT STATUE? SO, MUSEUMS, WAYS THEY COMMEMORATE THE PAST, THAT'S ALWAYS BEING REWRITTEN. IF IT NEVER GOT REWRITTEN, YOUNGER GENERATIONS WOULD JUST CEASE TO BE INTERESTED IN IT AT ALL, BECAUSE, UNLESS WE REINTERPRET THINGS THEY'RE DEAD. THEY'RE SOMEBODY ELSE'S INTERPRETATION IN THE PAST.

Steve says YEAH, FAIR ENOUGH, BUT, YOU KNOW, AND I DID READ THAT PIECE IN THE GUARDIAN, AND I READ ANOTHER PIECE BY JIMMY CARTER, THE FORMER PRESIDENT, WHO SAID "IT'S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO TAKE STATUES DOWN. STATUES HELP US CREATE AN APPRECIATION FOR HISTORY, CREATE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DISCUSSION, AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS PUT PLAQUES OR COMPETING STATUES BESIDE THE EXISTING ONES THAT WILL TELL A FULLER STORY." WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT IDEA?

Margaret says WELL, THAT'S ONE IDEA. I'M NOT TERRIBLY INVESTED... (LAUGHING) IN STATUES MYSELF. AND, I DID GROW UP AS A YOUNG PERSON WONDERING WHO THESE PEOPLE WERE. LIKE, THERE'S SOME GUYS ON HORSEBACK IN QUEEN'S PARK. WHO ARE THEY? WHAT ARE THEY DOING THERE? I NEVER KNEW. I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN THE SANTA CLAUS PARADE WHICH USED TO GO RIGHT PAST THEM.

Steve says WELL, WE'VE NOW GOT TO A POINT THOUGH WHERE THERE ARE SOME MUNICIPALITIES IN THE COUNTRY WHO ARE SAYING, "WE'RE GOING TO CANCEL OUR CANADA DAY, JULY FIRST CELEBRATIONS BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, IT'S ALL PART OF A COLONIAL PAST THAT WE NOW NEED TO GET PAST." PASSED AND PAST.

Margaret says OKAY, SO WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO REPLACE THAT WITH AS A CELEBRATORY EVENT? BECAUSE IF YOU'RE A COUNTRY OR A SOCIETY WITH NO CELEBRATORY EVENTS, YOU'RE GOING TO ENTER A STATE OF DISBELIEF IN YOURSELF AND DEPRESSION LIKE FOREVER. SO, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA INVENT INSTEAD? LET'S HEAR SOME PROPOSALS. BECAUSE IF YOU JUST ABOLISH EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS AND DON'T REPLACE IT WITH ANYTHING, WHAT ARE YOU LEFT WITH?

Steve says HM, I'M GOING TO... YOU KNOW, WE'VE TALKED PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, BUT I'M NOT DONE WITH THE PAST YET. SO I'M GOING BACK 40 YEARS, AT A TIME WHEN YOU LIVED IN GERMANY, AND I GUESS, HAD OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT COMMUNIST COUNTRIES THAT WERE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD.

Margaret says MM-HM, YEP.

Steve says SO YOU WELL KNOW AS WELL AS ANYBODY AROUND TODAY, HOW, IF YOU SAID THE WRONG THING BACK THEN, THE KNOCK ON THE DOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND THAT WAS IT FOR YOU. WE DON'T HAVE THAT TODAY IN CANADA, BUT WE HAVE A DIFFERENT KIND OF THING. WE HAVE, IF YOU SAY THE WRONG THING ON SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU WILL GET THE MOB AFTER YOU LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS. AND WHILE THEY WON'T ACTUALLY KILL YOU, THEY COULD GET YOU FIRED, OR DEPLATFORMED, OR CANCEL CULTURED, OR WHATEVER THE RIGHT EXPRESSION IS NOWADAYS. SOME PEOPLE CALL THAT HOLDING THEM TO ACCOUNT. WHAT DO YOU CALL IT?

Margaret says WELL, IT DEPENDS WHAT THE PERSON HAS DONE.

(LAUGHING)

Steve says MM-HM.

Margaret says SO, LET'S GO BACK TO FACTS AND EVIDENCE. SO, FACTS AND EVIDENCE? FAIR ENOUGH. NO FACTS AND NO EVIDENCE? WHAT WOULD YOU CALL THAT? SO, BACK TO THE 17TH CENTURY, "YOU'RE A WITCH." ARE WE REALLY GONNA DO THAT AGAIN? SO, IF THERE'S A REAL THING THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED, THAT'S ONE SCENARIO. IF THERE'S AN UNREAL THING THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN AND YOU STILL HAVE THE MOB AFTER YOU TRYING TO GET YOU FIRED, I WOULD SAY THAT'S AN ABUSE OF POWER. SO, THE ABILITY TO ACCUSE IS A POWER. AND YOU CAN ABUSE THAT POWER JUST AS YOU CAN ABUSE ANY OTHER KIND OF POWER THAT THERE IS.

Steve says MM.

Margaret says SO IF YOU'RE GONNA...

Steve says SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE BECOME VERY IMPORTANT IN DEMOCRACIES TODAY THOUGH. IT IS A WAY TO... IT'S A WAY FOR POLITICIANS TO ENGAGE WITH THE CITIZENRY. IT'S A WAY FOR THE CITIZENRY TO GET A MESSAGE TO POLITICIANS. AND IT'S A WAY FOR A LOT OF VERY UNCIVILIZED BEHAVIOUR TO TAKE PLACE. AND I KNOW WHAT AN AVID TWEETER YOU ARE, AND I WONDER IF YOU'VE GOT ANY ADVICE FOR HOW WE MIGHT... WE MIGHT REMOVE SOME OF THE TOXICITY OF TWITTER AND MAKE IT... MAKE IT WHAT IT MIGHT BETTER BE, WHICH IS A MORE CIVILIZED PLACE FOR DISCOURSE.

Margaret says YEAH, SO THAT MEANS MORE CIVILIZED DISCOURSE ACROSS THE BOARD. BUT LET ME JUST DO A MCLUHAN ON YOU AND WALK YOU RIGHT BACK TO THE ADVENT OF OTHER NEW TECHNOLOGIES. SUCH AS, MOVIES WHEN THEY FIRST HIT HAD A HUGE EFFECT ON PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY WERE NEW. IT WAS SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT. AND WHENEVER SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT COMES INTO THE MIX, PEOPLE ARE MESMERIZED BY IT AT FIRST. ALONG COMES RADIO. I BELIEVE THAT HITLER WOULD NOT HAVE HAD NEARLY THE IMPACT THAT HE HAD, HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR RADIO, AND HIS ABILITY TO USE IT. SO, HE WAS ABLE TO MAGNIFY HIS VOICE TO A TERRIFIC EXTENT BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE MESMERIZED BY RADIO. THEY WERE SITTING AROUND THEIR RADIO SETS. IT WAS SOMETHING NEW. THEY WERE LISTENING. IT WAS LIKE THE VOICE OF GOD GOING RIGHT INTO YOUR EAR. ALONG COMES TELEVISION. YOU'RE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER TV TRAYS AND TV DINNERS. AND PEOPLE...

Steve says NO, I'M NOT.

Margaret says YES, YOU ARE.

Steve says NO, I'M NOT.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Margaret says PEOPLE SITTING IN FRONT OF THE BLUE SCREEN, YOU KNOW, AND IT WAS BLACK AND WHITE. NOM, NOM, NOM. JUST, UM, EATING THEIR DINNER WHILE WATCHING THE SCREEN. A TREMENDOUS EFFECT AT THAT TIME. AND ONE THEORY IS THAT KENNEDY WON THE ELECTION 'CAUSE HE HAD A GOOD TV PRESENCE AND NIXON DID NOT. HE DIDN'T LOOK GOOD ON TELEVISION. SO, ALONG COMES THE INTERNET. EVERYBODY'S MESMERIZED BY IT. AND THAT WILL GO ON FOR A WHILE AND THEN IT WILL BECOME ANOTHER MEDIUM AND ANOTHER SET OF BACKGROUND NOISE, BUT IT WON'T BE SO TERRIFICALLY ALL IMPORTANT. AND I THINK THAT PEOPLE WILL ALSO GRASP THE FACT THAT PUBLISHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA IS PUBLISHING. SO, IT'S LIKE A NEWSPAPER. "OH, I FORGOT NEWSPAPERS." TURN OF THE CENTURY, THE HEARST NEWSPAPERS, YELLOW JOURNALISM ABSOLUTELY CONTROLLED PUBLIC OPINION. SO, YOU HAVE DIFFERENT MEDIA REPLACING OTHER ONES, OR LEARNING TO CO-EXIST WITH THEM, BUT THE NEW ONES ALWAYS GET A LOT OF ATTENTION. BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE SPECULATING ABOUT THEM, THEY'RE NEW. BUT PUBLISHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA IS PUBLISHING. AND YOU CAN BE SUED FOR WHAT YOU SAY THERE. AND I THINK PEOPLE ARE JUST NOW BEGINNING TO GRASP THAT.

Steve says HM, I GUESS I CAN SAY I'M A LITTLE SURPRISED AT YOUR SOMEWHAT HOPEFUL, OPTIMISTIC LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU WERE A SIGNATORY OF THAT LETTER IN HARPER'S MAGAZINE IN SUPPORT OF FREE SPEECH. AND YOU GOT CLOBBERED ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR COMING TO THE DEFENCE OF FREE SPEECH. YOU KNOW, ARE THERE DAYS WHEN YOU GET DESPONDENT ABOUT THE STATE OF OUR CULTURE?

Margaret says NO. NO, NO.

Steve says NO?

Margaret says TWITTER ISN'T... TWITTER IS NOT A REAL REFLECTION OF COMPLETE PUBLIC OPINION. SO, YOU KNOW, STEVE, IT'S A LONG GAME.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

Margaret says SO, YOU MIGHT GET CLOBBERED IN THE IMMEDIATE MOMENT, BUT THEN YOU GET ALL THESE PEOPLE COMING UP TO YOU AND SAYING, "I REALLY ADMIRE THE STANCE YOU TOOK ON THAT." SO, ANYTHING THAT YOU SEE IN THE MEDIA... DO YOU KNOW WHAT A MUSHROOM ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE? IT'S THIS HUGE UNDERGROUND NETWORK, AND THE MUSHROOM THAT YOU MIGHT PUT IN YOUR OMELETTE IS JUST A LITTLE BIT OF IT. IT'S WHAT WE CALL "THE FRUITING BODY." SO THESE LITTLE, UH, STUFF THAT HAPPENS ON SOCIAL MEDIA, EVEN IN NEWSPAPERS, EVEN ON SHOWS SUCH AS YOURS, THEY'RE LIKE THE MUSHROOMS. AND THEN THERE'S THIS HUGE UNDERGROUND NETWORK OF PEOPLE WHO WATCH THIS STUFF, AND THEY'RE AWARE OF THE STUFF, BUT MAY NOT NECESSARILY EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN PUBLIC. 'CAUSE THEY DON'T WANT THE HATE MAIL. BUT... BUT THEY HAVE OPINIONS, AND THEY WILL LET YOU KNOW PRIVATELY WHAT THEIR OPINIONS ARE. SO I THINK YOU DO THESE THINGS. YOU TAKE THESE STANDS TO MAKE IT SO THERE STILL ARE VOICES FOR FREE SPEECH AND REASONABLE DISCOURSE. AND YOU ARE SEEING MORE AND MORE PEOPLE EXPRESSING THAT VIEW NOW. SO, YEAH, YOU GET PEOPLE CARRIED AWAY BY THINGS, BUT ANY WEAPON LIKE THAT THAT YOU USE CAN ALWAYS BE USED AGAINST YOU. AND WHEN THEY TURN AROUND AND GET CLOBBERED THEMSELVES, THEY REALIZE THAT MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE OPTED FOR FREE SPEECH AND RATIONAL DISCOURSE.

Steve says I THINK THERE'S SOMETHING FABULOUS ABOUT AN 81-YEAR-OLD AUTHOR PLAYING THE LONG GAME ON SOCIAL MEDIA. (LAUGHING) THAT'S PRETTY COOL.

Margaret says I THINK THAT'S MORBID. YOU SHOULDN'T SAY SUCH THINGS. YOU KNOW I'M GOING TO LIVE FOREVER, STEVE. COME ON.

Steve says WELL, ALL RIGHT, LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS THEN. HOW HOPEFUL ARE YOU STILL ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY, WHICH YOU HAVE CALLED "FRAGILE, AND STILL, IN SOME WAYS AN EXPERIMENT THAT WE'RE FIGURING OUT."

Margaret says STEVE, SO ARE MUSHROOMS. (LAUGHING) THEY'RE VERY FRAGILE TO THE VIEW, BUT THEY'VE BEEN AROUND A LONG TIME. AND IN FACT, IF IT WEREN'T FOR FUNGI, YOU WOULD NOT EXIST. SO, I'M HOPEFUL, BECAUSE WHY BE ANYTHING ELSE? WHY GIVE UP? UM, AND WHEN YOU DO GIVE UP, OR IF YOU DO GIVE UP, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THE OPPONENTS OF DEMOCRACY WANT YOU TO DO. SO, I'M HOPEFUL, AND THAT MEANS THAT I WILL ACT AGAINST MOVES THAT I SEE AS BEING DIRECTED TOWARDS ERADICATING DEMOCRACY. AND I THINK THAT WE, AS LONG AS WE ALL DO THAT, SHOULD WE HAPPEN TO BE IN FAVOUR OF DEMOCRACY AS A FORM OF GOVERNMENT, IF WE ALL DO THAT, THEN THE BAD THING WON'T HAPPEN.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Wodek Szemberg, @wodekszemberg."

Steve says I CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR SPENDING SO MUCH TIME WITH US ON TVO TONIGHT. THIS WAS JUST A THOROUGHLY, AT LEAST FOR ME... I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU THOUGHT. BUT FOR ME, THIS WAS A THOROUGHLY ENJOYABLE CONVERSATION. I'M SO GLAD WE GOT A CHANCE TO TO DO IT. AND I LOOK FORWARD TO OUR NEXT ONE. HOPEFULLY IN PERSON.

Margaret says WELL, THAT WOULD BE LOVELY. I'M PLAYING THE LONG GAME AND... AND PREDICTING THAT I MIGHT ACTUALLY BE AROUND FOR THAT.

Steve says I KNOW YOU WILL BE.

(LAUGHING)

Steve says THAT'S MARGARET ATWOOD. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Margaret says THANK YOU. BYE-BYE, STEVE.

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