After five years at the helm of CBC Radio's The House, Kathleen Petty is moving on.
"It has been a privilege to work here," Petty said at the end of her final show Saturday morning.
"I've learned a great deal — I'm a better journalist and broadcaster — thanks to my mistakes and the patience of the audience who allowed me to make them, forgave me and kept tuning in, confident I'd figure it out eventually - and I hope I did, more often than not."
Petty is moving back to her native Calgary to host CBC Radio's morning show the Calgary Eyeopener. Before leaving, she wanted to share some of her observations about federal politics, and the media's coverage of politics.
"We talk AT each other, not WITH each other," Petty said. "We keep score, assign penalties, and generally treat politics as a sport. But as sports go, politics might be a great a game for participants, but not spectators or listeners. I sense a great disconnect. Why don't Canadians vote? Perhaps, because we're not treating them as participants, but as spectators."
Kathleen Petty's final thoughts after five years in Ottawa
"Somehow it seems fitting my final show would coincide with an NDP-led filibuster in the House of Commons. During my five years in Ottawa, I've been covering a minority Parliament. If the opposition wanted to kill legislation, it had the numbers to defeat it.
Now, in a majority, they can only delay it — hence, the filibuster in connection with the back to work legislation to end the strike/lockout at Canada Post.
On Parliament Hill, this is what everyone is watching, talking about, writing about, thinking about. But off the Hill, I'm not so sure.
People care about the issues — pensions, collective bargaining, sending and receiving mail, the economic impact, the long term viability of Canada Post — but that's policy. A filibuster is politics. The balance between those two has always been the challenge on The House, especially with a minority Parliament always teetering on the edge of an election.
Hugh Segal, with whom I spoke at the beginning of the show, once wrote an editorial in support of a set of rules we implemented on this program: no more personal attacks, people talking over each other, politicians being allowed to freely throw around talking points unchallenged.
That set of guiding principles meant MP panels were few and far between. We reached out more often to individual federal politicians, but we interviewed fewer of them. In part, because fewer of them were willing to agree to in-depth, one-on-one interviews. We wanted more policy discussions instead of political discussions — no easy task in a minority Parliament.
From time to time, as the show is taped on Friday for a Saturday broadcast, we would actually stop interviews and start over when it because clear that objective wasn't being met. We reached out more to the provinces and municipalities in an effort to get the view of governments closer to the people. It reduced the number of people willing to come on the show because we wanted to have conversations where we could learn something and be a little wiser for having invested the time to listen.
I think we succeeded in that far more than we failed.
I didn't think we were really asking for much. If, in response to a question, a politician hesitated, even a little, I was reasonably confident that the answer required some thought, instead of tired talking points that require none. That in Ottawa is a victory. And that is, in my view, a problem.
We talk AT each other, not WITH each other. We keep score, assign penalties, and generally treat politics as a sport. But as sports go, politics might be a great a game for participants, but not spectators or listeners. I sense a great disconnect. Why don't Canadians vote? Perhaps, because we're not treating them as participants - but as spectators.
Having said all that, Ottawa is also an amazing place full of fiercely smart and dedicated people at every level in every discipline. I work with journalists who are second to none. They sacrifice a great deal as a result of their dedication for —and perhaps obsession of — political coverage. Politicians, too, live a difficult life and often get a bad rap. Because of the tendency to keep score in political life, they're on defence a lot of the time, and predictably on offence the rest of the time.
But the politicians I've come to know are here for the right reasons. Good people in an adversarial system trying to get things done knowing that if they get it wrong, they'll be looking for a new job.
It has been a privilege to work here. I've learned a great deal. I'm a better journalist and broadcaster, thanks to my mistakes and the patience of the audience who allowed me to make them, forgave me and kept tuning in, confident I'd figure it out eventually. And I hope I did, more often than not.
Finally, as I prepare to go home to Calgary, a simple thank you to Nick, Susana and Paul, the team that produces The House. They are my friends and I will miss them — a lot. As I'll miss you. "
The House airs on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio One and at 7 a.m. on SiriusXM Channel 159. It is Canada's longest-running political affairs program with over 750,000 listeners tuning in every Saturday.