The Sofa Session: Democracy needs to work for all generations
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Episode 6 The Sofa Session: Democracy needs to work for all generations

July 8, 2022

Listen on Anchor.fm

 

Angie Chan

Hello, everyone. I'm Angie Chan.

Paul Kershaw 

And I'm Paul Kershaw.

Angie Chan

We're the hosts of Hard Truths, a podcast brought to you by Gen Squeeze about Canada's broken generational system and how to fix it.

Today, we're going to talk about the big D. Get your heads out of the gutter. We're talking about democracy, folks, democracy. Paul, I think we have a lot we both want to say about democracy…

Paul Kershaw 

Amen.

Angie Chan

…Our values, our institutions, our Canadian version of democracy, the work needed to maintain, nurture and evolve our democracy. This might be a roller coaster ride of emotion. Or, as Will Ferrell says on Anchorman, one of the best comedies ever, we might find ourselves in a glass cage of emotion. I don't want to spill all the beans. So Paul, Hard Truth time?

Paul Kershaw

Well this episode's hard truth is that we can't fix the broken generational system without rejuvenating democracy.

Angie Chan

Democracy! Democracy!

Paul Kershaw 

It's a cheerful thing, but it has me a bit bummed out. It actually had me on the sofa over the weekend, after having Gen Squeeze worked so hard during the provincial election in Ontario, Canada's largest province. And we put a lot of time into trying to analyze platforms and help prospective voters make sense of the various promises that parties were putting an offer. And then after, fewer than one in two people showed up to cast a vote. And that definitely had me feeling discouraged. Because, you know, the squeeze facing younger generations and the challenge of some of our aging parents and grandparents who we'd love who want to leave a proud legacy for their kids and grandchildren. Like we can't do that if democracy isn't working well for all generations. And fewer than one in two people showing up is not a sign of a healthy democracy in Canada.

Angie Chan

Yeah. Yeah. I know, it was really shocking. I mean, we've heard about low turnout for elections before this is not entirely surprised. But I think what did you say was 41%?

Paul Kershaw 

…it was 43%, the record low turnout in the history of the province of Ontario.

Angie Chan

Yeah, that's that's a new low. What do you think that low turnout reflects?

Paul Kershaw 

You know, I've been thinking about that quite a lot. And it had me hearken back to a story told to me by a friend who inspires me and she was sharing how not that long ago, she was curled up on the floor one morning. The night before two of her kids were sick. So she'd started the day exhausted and was rushing her three kids out the door to get to school, and then her toddler melts onto the floor, yanks off her shoes and start screaming at her mom for what? Putting on the wrong socks.

Angie Chan

I literally just talked to a friend at work with almost an identical story.

Paul Kershaw 

But then it kind of crept into something bigger, how can she pay for after school care? How will she afford housing? Is my kid ever going to be able to afford a home when she's older? And like, oh my god, what about climate change? It's like calming a sock tantrum sometimes feels pointless in the face of so many bigger problems. And I found myself thinking about that story again, when I was despairing about democracy, because it's like, yeah, right. It's that. That's why we work so hard at Gen Squeeze, why we try and make democracy work better for all generations, why we try and influence the world of politics. Because in that moment, when you know, many, many mums and dads—and you know others are just struggling with a range of things that are part of the squeeze—challenge of raising kids paying rent, paying for childcare, figuring out, where you’re gonna hustle that next job when you have like precarious work. Gen Squeeze exists in many ways to say, we've got your back, you're busy, there are big problems we individually cannot work our way out of. And so while you're busy trying to deal with the personal squeeze, we're going to try and fix the broken system. So I pulled my ass off the couch and remembered that was the purpose of what we're doing.

Angie Chan

It's okay to spend some time on the couch. We all need to rest our butts.

Paul Kershaw

Thank you.

Angie Chan

This is a sofa session. That's what we're calling this episode.

Paul Kershaw 

So this sofa session. This is Paul's counseling session. Thank you very much for making me feel better. And I will stay on the sofa a little bit longer to hear more about how I'm doing okay.

Angie Chan

I think you show a lot of compassion when you talk about how you know people are busy, but Gen Squeeze has the capacity to do a lot of this analytical work that we hope will be helpful for folks to make decisions, I think an additional challenge. It feels like the world is way more complex. So like, you know, understand the science behind our vaccinations or climate change. It all seems complicated and the answer I think can't be. We all just need to spend way less time on Netflix and way more time. I'm trying to do the analysis on our own. And we can't all be experts on all things.

Paul Kershaw 

No, that's really interesting. Then what I like about Gen Squeeze and why we work so hard during elections is we're not just a think tank, though about like, what are the problems? Or what are the solutions, like we're thinking change tank. And so I am proud that Gen Squeeze steps up in this way and said, you know, we're gonna produce this research, we're gonna engage with other academics, you know, and see what's happening in terms of the evidence being produced in our lab and across the academy, at universities in Canada and around the world. And then, and then we can't just stop there, we have to think about how do we bring it so that it influences the day to day and people's lives on these important issues around family affordability, and housing and climate change and generational fairness? And, and so that's how I think about like, how do we get the power of public opinion for that evidence, mean politics response to those who organize and show up, we need to empower the evidence in ways that gives politicians enough political cover to bravely act. And there are moments in democracy where we're citizens have influence and key moments, our elections the day we cast the ballot, but also what have we shaping what are the parties putting on offer to us? What are they promising, promising to us to earn our vote that day, and such and squeezes like so desperately wanting to inspire people to know that those moments when people are designing the platforms and trying to woo their votes, is a time that we can actually address the anxiety that the mum feels when facing the temper tantrum? And when others are struggling with other parts of the squeeze? Whether it's their rent their housing, their student debt? or what have you?

Angie Chan

Yeah, you know, the elections are, as you say, like, really important moments to exercise a Democratic responsibility. But by that point, what you're choosing between is already limited and well defined for you. And it's that time in between the elections that Gen Squeeze and organizations like it are doing their good work in shaping what the issues are, the priorities are. And the potential options are that in the end, kind of put on the table at election time. And I'm wondering if you have any comments on the work that's required in that time between elections?

Paul Kershaw 

Yeah, that's really great. When I think about going from, you know, the story of socks to then our story of like, we're working our asses off, you know, on the entire election. And what we're trying to do is like, we use those assessments at the platforms to then go to the parties after the election and say, you know, if you want to do better the next time around, when you're trying to woo people's votes, you know, here's how you can improve your platforms. And so that's one way in which the org tries to be the think, and the change tank, because we need to not only put ideas out there, but we need to put it out there at the right times. So that next time around, people have a chance to vote, the platforms that are put on offer to them will be better.

Angie Chan

Yeah, I love that point. We know that, like a big part of change is timing. And you don't know when the right time is. So you never know, when an idea big or small will actually land. And so I think that Gen Squeeze has been smart about, you've been planting seeds for over a decade now hoping that if they get nurtured over time, they're gonna grow into something, but you just don't know when it's going to grow.

Paul Kershaw 

I like that metaphor, someone who's still sweating and probably has horse manure, cat urine, chicken feces all over him right now. And dirt from the garden. I'm like, Yeah, we do planting seeds. And sometimes it takes a while. You're right, we are definitely planting a lot of seeds. And at moments when the time is right. Politics may respond. But that's the thing we can't do alone. We, we need our constituency, to be involved in sharing the ideas and rallying troops. And at certain moments, you know, we need young and older like to like turn up at the ballot box. And I literally don't care who the hell they voted for in the last election. But if they were going there thinking, I'm voting for the party that I think you know, aligns with my values about generational fairness, then I'm like, that can make a difference in the medium term. But if people just say, I'm not showing up today, I'm too busy or I don't care. And none of these parties are putting something on offer for me that I care about, then I really do worry. We are doomed to have housing and affordability continue. It'd be really challenging for the generation raising young kids and everyone dealing with the very risky repercussions of climate change. Yeah, yeah. And then yeah, but I jumped in there because I'm off the couch and now I'm on a soapbox.

Angie Chan

There are a couple of things that I wanted to touch on. And so I'm still trying to like square this. Urkel have sort of the rational decision making and the irrational decision making. And we as humans, I think we all make decisions in both ways. And so I think if I understand, Gen Squeeze’s theory of change, right? It's using evidence and information to change hearts and minds. And I wonder if, when I think about a sustainable change, and one that brings everybody along with it, and not alienate people with change, it requires the hearts and minds of all. And so I'm just wondering if you can maybe talk about how you tried to achieve that.

Paul Kershaw 

One, I think that you're so clever and talking about, you know, there's changing policy, and there's changing hearts and minds. And Gen Squeeze definitely thinks we're in the business of doing both. And in fact, to change policy, we often think we have to change hearts and minds. First, there's this great book called The righteous mind by Jonathan Haidt, he's a scholar in the States. And he'll point out that actually, it's so many of our reactions to things first come from, you know, from our heart, you know, from our, like, intuitive reactions emotionally in the light of our values. And then afterwards, we rationalize it. That's how human beings evolved. And so that's how our brains work. So I think that, you know, there's a range of examples, you can talk about that, you know, changing hearts and minds was so important. So Gen Squeeze certainly wasn't the first and we didn't ultimately lead work on pricing pollution, we led the intergenerational Climate Coalition into the Supreme Court, you know, as part of like, a much, much larger movement to put a price on pollution. And changing hearts and minds, I was really critical there for because for a long time, that was like a wedge issue in Canadian politics. And so it meant the moment that we had an election, there wasn't a risk, if the party in power change that you could lose the price on pollution. And D, that's part of the reason we went to the Supreme Court. And we were wanting to argue that it's constitutional have this price on pollution. But in the most recent federal election, enough hearts and minds in Canada had changed that all political parties put on offer that their platforms would support a price on pollution, because they realized, that's where the majority of the electorate was at. And it wasn't now a wedge issue any longer in quite the same way. So it puts much more protection in place for the policy change. And I think in the same way, whether you know, the hearts and minds on child care when I first started proposing it Gen Squeeze $10 A child care and youth groups, like the coalition of child care advocates took that on, I'd be doing radio shows and people would call in and say, you know, why the heck do we need to have inexpensive child care for people today, I didn't have that when I was raising my kids some decades ago. And that's where the language of the squeeze started, like, okay, but young people today, they have to go to school longer and pay more for the privilege jam jobs that pay less, and they face way higher housing prices, their hard work is not paying off like it used to. So you need more douleur parents in the past by comparison, the past not to mention gender equality. And so we need these things now in a way that we didn't in the past. And it took a while to set those seeds. But hearts and minds now have weighed in enough were like in the Ontario election, every party was supporting the idea of $10 day child care, because it's now the hearts and minds of the majority mean that regardless of what party you're going to vote for, that's something they're looking for. That's how you that's how you in culture, policy change, in addition to institutionalizing it in policy, it's just Well, I'm still on my soapbox. That's why housing is so critical right now, for the longest time we got, I think we've won people's hearts and minds saying yes, housing affordability hurts young people. But we hadn't turned the hearts and minds to the generational tension, the fact that those who got in the housing market earlier, are getting wealthier. And I think the moment that, you know, our Deputy Prime Minister said housing is an intergenerational injustice is a signal like, Ah, now we're turning the corner on that part of the hearts and minds change.

Angie Chan

Yeah, yeah. I think one of the important things that you're raising here in both the childcare example, in the housing example, is that the work of getting that language into everybody's minds and and just normalizing it. That's part of the culture change that you were referring to as well.

Paul Kershaw 

I think we do that well. And then when we say but who should you be annoyed with or angry with or blame? We don't blame the easiest suspects. And I think that, you know, in the early days of our work on housing prints, were like, Let's be ups, let's do stuff about foreign buyers and people who have empty homes and speculators and so on. And a range of work has happened on that front and we continue to reinforce it, but we're saying it's not enough because actually, there's a broad range of regular everyday Canadians who are implicated in this as homeowners. And so we invite people to look in the mirror or an ask how might you be implicated? And then if you think about our broader generational analysis, you know, we're saying, hey, an older demographic worked hard, you paid taxes all your life, but there's some, you know, not so good parts of the legacy that you're leaving behind, like, how can we look at invite you to look in the mirror and decay might be part of this so that, you know, there's more to do now. And I think that the moment we start turning our work into a mirror where we ask all of ourselves to gaze at the way we might be implicated in some of these intergenerational tensions, and a broader, dysfunctional intergenerational system is the moment you're like getting people I'm leading away or more than that, I might tell you to eff off. So I think that that's, I've been saying, I think virgin squeeze 3.0. And in Gen Squeeze 2.0. We tried to maybe manage that balance a little bit differently. Like we tried to like, where people at what are the easy things they want to work on where they can feel good about it, and they don't have to, like look in the mirror. But kind of found like, after three or four or five years of doing that, we're like, we're doing all this other important stuff. But it's not, it's not actually getting it the hard part. It's not getting really is hurting. And so, right now, I think there's a new level of either recalcitrance or bravery, that we're like we're focusing on what's hard to do right now.

Angie Chan

Yeah, and I wonder if that even mirrors maybe I hate this word, because it's so overused, but like, the journey that an individual might have to go through to was like, Okay, I'm I heard this thing, it's about generations. And, you know, people, you know, people might not be doing so well as they did before. And then it comes to Well, let me see what the easy things to do are, because I'm an quote unquote, ally. And then, and then nothing changes. And then they're like, Shit, I gotta look in the mirror. Nope. And they're out.

Paul Kershaw 

That's, that's lovely. I think that's like, yeah, that's not a bad metaphor for us. And at the same time, though, the work of changing hearts and minds. We do need to push people to think about how can we be the best versions of ourselves as citizens in this country worried about our waste? You know, are we good stewards protecting what's sacred for those who we're gonna follow? Are we are we doing all we can, so we, you know, we're being there's reciprocity between us, and he's come before us. So we can be loyal and appreciative, and at the same time, making sure we're not passing on unfair bills to those who follow in our footsteps? And are we planning for young and older? Like, are we planning for all ages, though, today and into the future? And, and? And I say, well, it can be hard work to look at ourselves and saying, Are we taking personal responsibility to be these intergenerational citizen. And at moments, you know, we might not like what we see. But the moment we lean into that, and we see the parts of the mirror where, I guess, we could comb our hair intergenerationally better. And slap on some bitter intergenerational, whatever the metaphor is, you're blowing it totally. But, you know, the moment you lean into it like that is heroic. Like there are big problems out here and leaning into the mirror to see how we might be implicated in the intergenerational system that's contributing some mightily those problems, is actually very heroic citizenry work.

Angie Chan

I guess I would also offer like when it comes to hearts and minds change, that's a really weird phrase.

Paul Kershaw 

I like it.

Angie Chan

… hearts and minds change, I don't know. But there's the adoption of new language that helps to do that hearts and minds change. Maybe I'm just speaking for myself. There's also just information and new perspectives, and learning about those that I think also helps just for the ideas to sink in, ruminate and become part of, of one's mindset and thinking. And then I think the other piece that's really important, and I don't want to treat this superficially, but it is that like making friends, the network, I think of supporters, the when we talk about having a groundswell of people working together on some things, like maybe the change is small, and it is just like talking to your neighbor, and making one friend at a time.

Paul Kershaw

Oh, that's good. And I think it's critical. That's part of the diffusion like we need to shape opinion, if we're going to have enough public opinion, causing all political parties to want to get it right for all generations. We need to spread the word and so people can actively contribute to change even amid their busy lives, by at moments over drinks or with friends, having that interesting conversation, maybe at certain moments, vulnerable conversation about this generational system that might not be working so well. And then know that the spreading of opinions is great, but at certain moments we need Somebody say I'm for something, I'm for that change over there, like, I'm part of that group calling for that solution. And that's a kind of bravery and citizenship that I don't think we celebrate enough. So that's why I'm wanting to resist a little bit like, we might think it's clicktivism to sign a petition online. But for a group like Jen's please, when then you could then go into holes of power on Parliament Hill, or to Queen's Park or to Victoria, or any other provincial capitol. Being able to showcase their people calling for this empowers the evidence, if we're just putting the evidence out there, he's got little power if we can show a posse calling for the evidence to be acted on. That's power. And so I want people to know that seeing even quietly clicking on a petition saying signing up, and other times saying what loudly and proudly I stand for this, right, I support that solution. That's a big deal. Citizenship. That's what it means to rejuvenate democracy. Democracy can't just be casting a vote behind some box where no one sees what you did, at a certain moment, democracy, there are big problems going on. And we can only fix them by making democracy work, which means we're going to stand up and let people know what we stand for.

Angie Chan

Yeah, yeah. Paul, I think what you're starting to raise is that democracy and active citizenry requires transparency and vulnerability and disagreement, open disagreement. But if we have the strength and relationships to bear that kind of disagreement, we can actually move forward,

Paul Kershaw 

... how to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

Angie Chan

Disagreement for the greater good.

Paul Kershaw 

Oh, I like that even better.

Angie Chan

Okay, but honestly, it's like, if we're in it together, truly, and not just, you know, an easy online petition that we signed, but truly feeling like we're in it together, and that we understand each other's challenges in life, that also begins to change hearts and minds and actually make it much easier for us to, to give and take and share from people.

Paul Kershaw 

Well, sure, I like the language, we're in it together. And there's this interesting distinction made between we're in it together. And it's more than just like signing a petition online. And, you know, it's brings us back to a theme that I didn't think the hard truths podcast would be constantly about love. But just, you know, it's what we have going for us is like we are in it together, like our parents and grandparents love us. We love our parents and grandparents, families are in it together. And if we can, like, bring that that same love and that same emotion into rejuvenating democracy, making the world of politics work for all generations, we've got so much to work with,

Angie Chan

I think, okay, so just just a quick step back, which is I love that, that we can lean on each other because I think we're gonna have good days and bad days. And I might be on a, I don't think I'm on a bad day right now. I think I'm trying to get more and more realistic about stuff. But when we ask people to be living in solidarity with another generations, what are we asking of them? I think it requires sacrifice. And, and like, and I mean, that not like, Oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna have a more plant forward diet. I don't think that goes quite far enough in terms of the kind of change that we're talking about.

Paul Kershaw 

Oh, my goodness, that is the most un-Angie-like question you've ever asked.

Angie Chan

I know!

Paul Kershaw 

Lord, we need, we need to send you that tequila and get you some good tea. And now we're putting you on the sofa. So no, no, no, no, no. So I'm gonna I'm going to try and counter counter Angie Bad Day. And set Angie back on track. Look, people are complicated. And I think there are moments when we regress to, you know, the less, you know, the best version of ourselves and other moments, we definitely want to pursue these higher values, people are driven by values, values, you know, values around freedom values around choice melees around Liberty values around care, and not harming people values around loyalty and not betraying values about protecting what's sacred and not degrading things. These are things that even those you might wildly disagree with, they will hold on to values that actually they'll espouse and much that way. And so I do think that, you know, we're complex, and sometimes, you know, systems can reinforce are looking inward and being sort of self centered and self interested and so on and so on. But at other moments, the systems can incentivize us to to be more outward. And I think, you know, Angie Chan, is that a sacrifice to ask people to leave at least as much as they inherited? Is it a sacrifice to ask people to steward what they thought was important, like a good childhood or good home or safe plan and make sure that those things don't get left for those who follow? Is it a sacrifice to say, Hey, pay for what you want to use? And if you're actually doing relatively well, how about making an investment in the future? I don't think so. I think actually, if you think about how you think is a mum and you do that all the time for your kids, are you worried about whether or not your kids are going to have more than you do? know quite the opposite? I think you're going to feel successful as a mum, if that's what you give your kids. I think people are hardwired to think that way in our family. So why can't we bring that to the world of politics answer as we can. But we do I need to make democracy work better for all generations. And when then, then I have to go back on the sofa. Because when you see like a voter turnout of like 43% in Canada's largest province, you're like, we are effing effed. Because we can't solve these generational problems individually, we, we have to have a well functioning democracy. And if fewer than one or two people show up, that's not a well functioning democracy.

Angie Chan

Yes. But doesn't. Isn't that like, are we both now on the sofa? Because, like…

Paul Kershaw 

I’m backup, I'm back. That was a low moment backup. I was on the sofa for three days after the Ontario election, but I'm off my knees.

Angie Chan

Because I was gonna say like, it's gonna be sad one. But I do I think you're absolutely right. This is like the intergenerational equity work is it is about making democracy work better. And like, All signs point to not a great outlook for democracy, like what is our national project right now? What is our what is our positive alternate vision? Other than, like, Let's manage resources better? Bu, you know, like, Who What are we what are we doing together? I'll give you one example. I'll tell the COVID story from two different angles. Okay. The risk of dying from COVID disproportionately affects the oldest people in our society, and has almost vanishingly low risk for people who are younger. And the educational and economic effects and risks disproportionately affect our younger generations. And what was asked of the world. And there were pockets of people who balked at this violently. But in general, the world all came together and said, we're going to follow these public health measures, we're going to get vaccinated, we're going to get our economy back on track, blah, blah, blah. And in in those steps, and those decisions, protected the old and fucked up the yet. And on the one hand, you could be like, Yo, this is an excellent example of intergenerational solidarity, where everybody, but really, the burden fell on younger generations to protect older, I think, I think we we did a great job at protecting and also now unearthing a lot of problems within our long term care system. And now we're plowing strategy and resources into improving those systems. That's great. But the other story is, at the end of it, what we heard was old people thought young people weren't going to do their job. And that they're actually going to go out on the beach and have parties and spread COVID and put old people at risk. And then young people are like, Yo, for you guys. I'm going to be apart from my social circles. I'm going to stall, you know, building relationships with people, I got fired from my job because nobody can go shopping. Like, there are two stories here. And I think, depending on where you land, or maybe your perspective on, like, how cohesive, we're working as a society, there's like a good solidarity story and a bad solidarity story. And I'd like fall in the bad solidarity story. Because I don't think the good solidarity story actually reflected an intention to protect different generations. I think it was like, well, we're going to just do this thing and the outcomes become the outcomes. That was like such a huge rant.

Paul Kershaw 

No, no, no, no, no, we have to engage on this.

Angie Chan

I just I hope it was clear, because I'm just like, I'm just gonna go…

Paul Kershaw 

There's something really powerful about how you just characterized the two versions of the intergenerational solidarity or the two intergenerational experiences the pandemic and I think in some regards, you're kind of caricaturing the two takes, so that's how I'm interpreting you. But I think that the characters of the two takes are actually really powerful. that reciprocity, and I just, that's why then we need to fall back on the couch and be frustrated.

So, on the one hand, I think that the degree to which Canada made massive to hear adaptations, which disproportionately we know, it was important for the aging family members that we love Canadians and kicked into like, okay, they're deserving we need to protect them. And, you know, Canadians are actually good at that. And we should take pride in that. I think that's an example of a lovely moment of intergenerational solidarity. What's so vexing is that more than two years later, and as we're in a different phase of the pandemic, the range of adaptations made by younger people, little kids, having their schooling thwarted having their opportunity to play sport and having opportunity to be part of sports thwarted, to parents having to suddenly become at home laborers and parents and school teachers with no access, especially in cities to the outdoors and doing it all in those cramped conditions. And that's just, you know, on top of than what was happening to people financially and as a rent being put at risk with the challenge of paying their mortgage, are they losing their jobs, and you said, so, such a large economic, social and psychological weight put on a younger demographic, he would have hoped, at this moment, there would be a political party, or a government, or for that matter, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, or just the older family members in our lives, saying, Thank you. And more than that, well, given this important intergenerational commitment that a younger demographic just made to us to help fight off the spread of COVID That was so potentially harmful for an older dimmer? Can we now think about how we might adapt what we're doing to address some of the challenging parts of our legacy? What can how can we double down on fighting climate change? Maybe we will get on fewer cruises and planes, you know, which have such a large impact in terms of their carbon? Or how might we be like we can we're going to accelerate our commitment to paying for pollution, or we're going to be willing to say, wow, you know, what we now know, we want more medical care going forward? Did we prepay for all of that enough? Have we put in enough? How might we tap into some of the wealth we've accumulated, say, through our housing to make sure that we're paying for these things that we want, rather than leaving the bills for our kids and grandchildren? And speaking of those grandchildren, I'm sure darn glad that we are investing in $10 day childcare, and let's make sure that happens as quickly as it possibly can. Because my grandkids just got hammered during the pandemic. And I could go on, so that it's not I don't think it's a problem that during the pandemic, a younger demographic stepped up and showed solidarity with the family members and the older citizens in our lives, who we love and respect. What we're missing is the reciprocity. Yes. The second principle of intergenerational fairness, that reciprocity, and I just, that's why then we need to fall back on the couch and be frustrated.

Angie Chan

Yeah, I think I think that's right. I think the reciprocity, it has not materialized, that's for sure.

Paul Kershaw 

And can I go back on the sofa one more time? I was so fundamentally wrong one year into the pandemic, I thought, you know, this is really shitty, there's so many things that are going wrong for people right now. And this is hard and harmful and frightening. But I imagined the silver lining would be this is going to be akin to like what it was in World War Two, when people were mobilizing and going and making big sacrifices. And they did so though, alongside where we saw that our governments were doing this and leading on behalf of us doing things we hadn't imagined possible before, delivered collectively. And so I thought there's gonna be a renewed faith in what we can do collectively, together, what we do through public policy, what we do through our governments, but I'm, you know, you know, two years now, after the pandemic started a little more than that, I don't see that renewed faith in government. In fact, I just see increased disdain, or, you know, thinking that it's unimportant, whether it's the voter turnout, or, you know, just looking at polling results for some of you know, the federal government. And this is in no way a plug for a party. But I mean, the federal government, just during the pandemic, reduce the poverty level in this country, more than we'd ever seen before. And that was as a part of a commitment to try and make people financially as whole as possible during a shutdown in our country. These are massive things that we did we mobilize vaccines, we actually didn't keep our healthcare system, not only afloat, but you know, managing to fend off illness for so many people. Why doesn't that make us enormously proud of our institutions and say, Wow, I understand why politics matters. I understand why government I might not like this party, running government, but I get why government is important. And that actually isn't the legacy of COVID 19.

Angie Chan

Yeah, I mean, like this has been like a bit of a lost opportunity to point to all the ways that we've come together without making it sound. Like just some platitude, which sometimes it sounded like, you know, we're going to like come together and do this thing. But...

Paul Kershaw 

well, now then I'm going to look in the mirror and say like, that is primetime Gen Squeezed territory, then we fail by not actually taking up the mantle and drawing people's attention to this and saying, Hey, this isn't a moment necessarily need to be focusing on easing the squeeze on younger Canadians. Just look what we're doing right now. Let's be proud, let's be impressed about what we're accomplishing, collectively together, let's be impressed that you might not have voted for this particular party leader. But nevertheless, they're delivering some important things couldn't be better, you bet. But sometimes we can't let the best be the enemy of good enough. And I'm having to adapt as quickly as we did. There was a lot of good enough going on in Canada. Yeah.

Angie Chan

You know what, though? I also have crazy recency bias as well. So I think like right now, like, like all the anti vaxxers. And I do remember in those early months in first year, and like, holy shit, like we are doing this people, and we were coming together, and we were all talking about this thing we were doing together. So I just want to I just want to make sure that that's on our record that I'm not just...

Paul Kershaw 

Angie Chan, not always so skeptical…

Angie Chan

That's my tagline.

Paul Kershaw 

There you go. Well, first off, like I do work in the School of population in public health were like many of the leading scientists, at least in British Columbia were working their tails off as people were fighting COVID. So I'll take my hat off and acknowledge all of it in there who are amazing colleagues, and so brilliant and keeping people healthy and safe. But I also want to say back to Angie, not always so skeptical is, this is a part of the hard work of citizenship where we are all falling down. And because the proportion of people who are anti vaxxers, first off is, is a small number, the proportion of people supportive of those who are in the quote, unquote, Freedom convoy is a small number. And I don't like their messages. And I will challenge the way in which they articulate their values, I don't think that they're actually into freedom and the way they are, and I don't think they have an impoverished understanding of what freedom means. But man, they are organizing showing up. But the rest of the country, you know, we are not, where are we in terms of standing up and saying, Yep, politics matters. And politics responds to those of us who organize and show up and are we signaling enough what we want?

Angie Chan

Yes, yes.

Paul Kershaw 

You know, we've talked today about being on the sofa and, and just sort of sharing those fears and that nervousness and to be honest, there's a moments where you might think that oh, like, wallowing in that kind of doom and gloom space is like a problem. But I think actually, if we're going to do the hard work to rejuvenate to democracy, which is what we need to do to fix the broken systems, whether it's racism, classism, sexism, or a broken intergenerational system, we have to recognize like, wow, we need to be worried when democracy doesn't work. Yeah. And we need to be encouraging our friends and family and other other people in our lives to be worried about it. If they're not yet worried enough at certain moments and said, democracy does matter. When, when we're scared about inflation, and we're scared of what's happening in our families. We're scared about what's happening in Flint, we can't fix those things alone. In our system, we can only fix it through democracy. So it's okay to be feeling discouraged when it doesn't work. And whether we live in Ontario or not, we should not be proud to be a Canadian at a moment where it's become normalized for our largest province to send fewer than one in two people to cast a ballot.

Angie Chan

Yeah, yeah, I think you're totally right. And I think you know, if we were to go back to where we started from with your friend that had to deal with the toddler with a tantrum, it's that if we are in it together, we can be strong and we can be vulnerable and we can rest and we can cheer. Like we can take breaks. You know what I mean? Like, sometimes we can, sometimes we can't, but if we can count on someone else to stand up when we need to take a break on the sofa. That's a real strength. That's love.

Paul Kershaw 

I think that's a wrap.

Angie Chan

Thank you so much. Also, also, Paul, we have been such jerks such jerks like it's embarrassing. We have never thanked our incredible producer Megan Wilde. We shall be doing this from here. I know. It's for us to make up for this crime. For everyone else listening. Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do follow us on all the social medias. And otherwise, send us your thoughts to info [at] gen squeeze [dot] ca. Until next time, bye!

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The Sofa Session: Democracy needs to work for all generations
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