The Sunday Magazine

Where's the poetry in our politics?

Stephen Lewis, Lorna Crozier and Joseph Heath join Michael to discuss why there's no poetry in our politics.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair listen as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper take part in the first leaders debate Thursday, August 6, 2015 in Toronto. (Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Politicians are selling themselves as competent fiscal managers. Election platforms promise security and tax credits. But where are the big ideas, the uplifting speeches that appeal to the better angels of our nature? 

The late New York Governor Mario Cuomo liked to say: "You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose." But we don't hear much poetry during election campaigns any more. 

This conversation - a longer version of what we aired on the radio - is with three people who understand the power of putting stirring words in the service of lofty ideals and ambitions.

Stephen Lewis is one of Canada's most eloquent public figures. He's a former leader of the Ontario NDP, he was Canada's ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988, and the UN's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from 2001 to 2006. He is also the chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the co-founder of AIDS-Free World.

Joseph Heath is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, where he also teaches at the School of Public Policy and Governance. His books include Enlightenment 2.0Filthy Lucre and The Rebel Sell.

Lorna Crozier is the former chair of the writing department at the University of Victoria. She has written 16 books of poetry and has won the Governor-General's Award, a National Magazine Award and the Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry. 


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