The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Friday, October 28, 2005

When information is replaced by policy

Once she had been a finance minister. A few years ago, she had retired into a professorship. Today and the two days before, she had been invited, at a handsome speaker's fee, to discuss the health care system.

The first two days was given us a solid foundation, wherein I discovered much that I had not known previously; and within the new data and new context I began to think of earlier things in different ways.

As the series of talks progressed, it was becoming increasingly obvious that through sheer coincidence the serendipitous mental filing cabinet I had accumulated over the years happened to be the exact complement to her own, fitting into the holes in the structure she presented like a hand into a glove. As I raised these complementary (but sometimes requiring re-assessment) points, it quickly became just as obvious that her purpose in giving these talks was not actually to inform, in the unbiased sense of the word, and certainly not to divert in the slightest from the opinion she had already formed. At some point, learning had been chosen to come to an end: to be replaced by a mutual recognition society of regular mutual invitations to pleasant, mutual reinforcement lunches and dinners. So far as those outside the inner circle went, our presence at these talks was desirable only insofar as we trotted obediently in line with the trail she had already decided upon, based on the only knowledge she would allow herself to consider.

The third day, strict data was quietly replaced by interpretation and foundation was quietly, almost invisibly, replaced by party policy: and of those other outsiders in the listen besides myself, not one seemed to notice.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home