YouTuber, J.J. McCullough, has left the committee hearing about Bill C-11 feeling disillusioned about the political process.
Earlier, we noted that Canadian Youtuber, J.J. McCullough, was before the Heritage Committee basically warning about the negative consequences of Bill C-11. He was among a number of people who have already appeared before committee to express concerns and reservations about the legislation.
We recently learned that he has also posted a follow-up to the video we linked to here. In it, he reflects about his experience:
You can, more or less, see what the original intent of the video was. Basically, keeping up his theme of education and telling people about the parliamentary process. However, a few minutes in, the tone completely changes to one with a bit more cynicism about the process.
Now, knowing a little bit about the background of this YouTuber, the transition is very understandable. He has a very academic based background where the learning is the fun part about school and being able to impart knowledge to others is also a really rewarding part of the learning process.
The thing about the high end academic side of things is that you are, with a lack of a better way of describing it, the more theoretical and on-paper side of things. It’s a bit less about what practically goes on in government. Not to say he is naive by any means, but perhaps that his exposure might be a bit different then say, someone like me who reports on the ongoings of government and gets a much more up close and personal part of the process.
So, when McCullough talks about how committee’s is, in his mind at one point, the upper elite levels of government where the best and brightest of lawmaker talk to the best and brightest in different affected industries to come up with the most brilliant ways of adjusting the legislation, that really says to someone like me that his exposure to the political process is more based on what is how government works on paper more than what is done in practice.
I know this because that is some of the stuff I was exposed to while in high school and university. A big difference, however, is that around 2005, I wound up joining the ranks of the journalism sector and got hardcore first hand experience in how government operates on topics that may or may not get a whole lot of exposure in the mainstream media.
When McCullough talked about how the committee was packed with special interests and how this was very different from his idea of how he thought committee work, well, worked, I couldn’t help but crack a smile. My response to that observation is this: “Yeah, welcome to my world.” I had an identical response when McCullough mentioned how these upper levels are much more representative of regular society where half intelligent people are bungling their way through things.
For us, this is something that we are long ago used to. We’ve been used to insane and completely off the wall crazy rantings by upper levels of government for years now. The more you understand the given topic that is being discussed, the more you realize just how loopy and ridiculous some debates can truly get. It’s not an environment that is all that conductive of intelligent debate where nuance is discussed at a granular level by any means.
If McCullough thought the whole process of a single committee meeting is disillusioning, just imagine having to cover these ongoings for years on end like me. After a while, it can be psychologically damaging. It may not feel like it after a few months, but give it at least a year and you’ll either have to adopt some strategies to remain sane or you pretty much lose it after a while. Believe me, I’ve seen my fair share of journalists lose their minds after a while and it’s not pretty.
Government has, for longer than I can remember, been a very corrupt process where the special interests of societies “elite” (namely the wealthiest and most privileged) effectively write the legislation, lobby officials to death, control narratives, push specific messaging in the media to bolster their viewpoints, and by and large get their way regardless of whether or not it’s best for the country (more often then not, it’s not best for the country). It’s a big reason why Canada has so many societal problems in the first place: it’s because a lot of the lawmaking process if heavily focused on what is in the interest of corporate lobbyists.
When you don’t have a lot of exposure to the granular process of the workings of government, all of this sounds like an exaggeration. Based on what we’ve seen, it really is not.
Having said that, based on the committee clips, McCullough did handle himself extremely well. I could definitely see debate club skills well and truly kicking in at really good times during the questioning – especially when MP Housefather tried to imply that McCullough was just sitting there to be an anti-French person with no credibility. McCullough was bang on when he questioned the relevance of bringing up the French language in a debate about Bill C-11. As a Canadian observer of that exchange, I’m more inclined to believe that Housefather seems to act like a jerk for the simple reason that he was more interested in attacking the person rather than the arguments presented.
I will say, however, that if McCullough is contemplating the idea of delving into the practical side of politics, then I recommend only doing so in smaller doses unless he is mentally prepared for the political psychological grinder. It is by no means easy to handle – especially when you are knowledgeable about some of the things being discussed. Believe me, there are days where I just want to punch the screen for how frustrating things can get.
Obviously, this is not to say, “don’t get involved in politics.” After all, as McCullough is no doubt aware of, they do make the rules governing society, so fighting rules that would be detrimental to society is actually part of your civic duty. I guess the message is to know what awful ugly monstrosity you are getting yourself in to, because it’s definitely nothing like what they teach in highschool or university.
McCullough, of course, should be applauded for managing to appear before committee. While we agree that it probably didn’t change anything in the process, it was, nevertheless, very important to have that voice heard. As an online community, we can definitely say that, thanks to testimonies like McCullough’s, that the government was well and truly warned that the problems we all brought up are very real and not just made up by some Conservative party troll farm (as the Liberals sometimes like to imply). We can all later say, “as evidenced by this, this and this, the government knew why the bill is effectively unconstitutional, but actively ignored those warnings.” To me, that has a lot of value in and of itself.
From me, personally, thank you McCullough for what you did. I hope that the process didn’t do anything to make you worse for wear. Keep on doing what you are doing and we’ll do what we can on our end of things from here.