Like many so many people watching the news this weekend, I felt overwhelmed. Several small opinion pieces were sketched out, only to be scrapped again and again as more developments came in.
Of course, the shooting at a mosque in Quebec City was paralyzing. Of course, President Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States should be loudly and clearly denounced. Given the outcry across North America, these are majority opinions.
Underneath these reactions though, is the sense that the speed of the world has changed—for better and worse.
The rapid pace of action and reaction was head spinning. Lawyers working pro bono reached American airports in time to change the situation. Meanwhile, protests and vigils were organized with lightening speed. That side of social media is transformative, and for the better.
But as Gwynne Dyer points out on these same pages, it’s a strange world in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweets such a clear rebuke to a sitting American president.
Trudeau’s statement in support of Syrian refugees was the right thing to do—no question—and it was even a touch moving. But he’s the prime minister, talking to our neighbour and biggest ally. Canada has an important role to play an honest broker in world affairs. And the Liberals are meant to be more adept at foreign policy. Diplomacy takes time. It takes continuing relationships and well developed strategies. If an American president with twitching twitter fingers is concerning, so too is a Canadian prime minister out for likes.
The speed of communication also has an impact on news outlets. Misinformation regarding suspects in the Quebec shooting spread widely, and fast. The pace at an alt weekly such as Vue is quite different. We received corrections well before our opinion pages were laid out. For this week anyway, the longer cycle was a gift. The delay between breaking news and our press deadline offered a moment to evaluate, and critically examine our own echo chambers.
Taking a moment or two before re-tweeting, sharing, commenting, or otherwise making a judgement call on any event has its virtues. For both politicians and citizens alike.