Education featured Governance

SJ Walsh: Men behaving badly (again)

Tory Leader Tim Houston told the House that Education Minister Zach Churchill confronted him Tuesday when he was in a phone booth in the members area of Province House. The two had a heated conversation and Houston said Churchill grabbed him by the shoulders.

Tories walk out of Province House as Houston accuses Churchill of assault

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I’m a parent of boys. I know that modelling is one of the most effective teaching techniques as a parent. Imagine the modelling discussion parents and teachers are having today. I don’t have to imagine.  I experienced it firsthand.

“What happened in the NS Legislature yesterday?” inquisitive middle schooler asked.

“Not sure son. It sounds like a difference of opinion that got heated and possibly physical. I don’t know. Politics can get pretty heated sometimes.”

“What does the video show?” (The Youtube generation assumes everything is on video).

“They don’t have video cameras on that part of the building.”

“Oh. …  Why not?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Isn’t this the second time in recent memory that something like this has happened?”

“Yes. And they didn’t install cameras so they could know what was happening.” My ever observant middle schooler speaks. “This not the first time it happened. You know they put cameras in the schools right?  So they could know what we are doing when something like this happens with kids.”

“Yes the schools have cameras, especially in the areas that conflicts are known to occur.”

“So nobody really knows what happened in the Legislature.”

“No.” “What does their inaction of installing cameras tell you?”

“Hmmmm  – maybe they don’t want to really be able to know what really happened.”

“Sometimes when things get really heated in discussions even the participants might not remember accurately. That’s why eyewitnesses testimony in trials can get really tricky.”

Today, in my house, this discussion of adults behaving badly is real.

“But when we argue we respect each others’ opinions. When we debate we get pretty heated too. At school too.”


“But I never shove you or dad.”

“No. No you don’t. Never.”

“I do shove my brother though.

“Yes you do. What do I try to teach you?  What happens to your friend that isn’t used to watching you horse around with your brother?

“Sometimes just watching us argue and hit each other makes him really uncomfortable and he leaves to do something else.”

“I never touch my friends that way…we can get into pretty heated discussions too.  Sometimes we horse around when we’re playing outside or during sports.”

“There is an appropriate time and place.”

I imagine this discussion is playing out in middle schools and junior and high school classrooms today. I wonder what message the altercation in the NS Legislature models to young people? I wonder what it models to our wider society.

“It’s just politics,” is the statement I saw written in an online comment.

No. No it isn’t. This type of discourse has a chilling effect on debate. It has been used effectively to silence people for thousands of years.

What about you discussing heated issues within a ministers’ or leaders’ riding? Would you be present in a one-on-one meeting with any one of these role models?

This behaviour and allowing it to be “vetted” and investigated behind closed doors has a chilling effect on silencing voices of women in particular.

I wonder if the men behaving badly know this?  Or if it is just “politics as usual.” I wonder what the supper conversation will bring.

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