Common Ground – Canada’s shared narrative and multiplicity of worldviews


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau knows a thing or two about Worldview Intelligence – even if he has yet to hear the term. He built his candidacy, his leadership and his campaign on it and it is embodied in the title of his autobiography: Common Ground.

In an era when much of politics – in Canada, the US and elsewhere – promotes division through fear mongering, Trudeau understands that the Canadian identity “is based on shared values such as openness, respect, compassion, justice, equality and opportunity.” He believes “Canada is pretty much the only place that defines itself through these values. Which is why we’re the only place on earth that is strong, not in spite of our differences, but because of them.” P. 107 And, this is a Worldview Intelligence strategy – to build strength through differences.

Trudeau began his career as a politician in the very diverse riding of Papineau. His strategy was to get out and meet as many people as he could, to discover from them who they are and what issues are important to them. “Most importantly I did a lot of listening. The only real way to expand my understanding of the issues voters were facing was by asking them what concerned them and listening carefully to their answers.” P. 179 Listening is one of the skills of Worldview Intelligence – listening to understand the views and perspectives of another, where those views came from and how they shape current reality and hopes for the future.

He is not interested in a divide-and-conquer political or personal strategy. “Once you have divided people against each other – to win an election – it’s very hard to pull them back together again to solve our shared problems…I tried to build common ground around common values that I believed were widely shared in the riding. No matter where the people came from, what language they spoke, or how they prayed, I believed we all shared certain values and I wanted to emphasize this connection between us.” P. 188-9 Discovering together these shared values, hopes and concerns builds the ground for more comprehensive solutions that honours differences even in finding new narratives to move forward. Our Worldview programming experience tells us that when people find points of connection, they can explore difference in new, often more reflective and curious ways.

This strategy of working from common ground, along with hard work and strong citizen engagement strategies and practices generated an unprecedented victory for the Liberal party in the October 2015 Canadian election, going from near banishment in the previous election when the party had been reduced to 36 seats to a clear majority of 184 seats.

Justin Trudeau Sophie Gregoire

Trudeau practices true engagement. “I thought then, as I do now, that citizen engagement is both an end in and of itself and a necessary means to solve the problems we face as a country. We have some big issues to deal with, and I often worry that unless we reinvigorate our democracy, we will never find legitimate answers to them. Modern democracy shouldn’t just be about citizens endorsing a vision and asset of solutions with their votes, but about actively contributing to building that vision and those solutions in the first places. This is the heart of the matter when it comes to democratic reform.” P. 163

He didn’t back down from the hard questions or conversations either. “Social issues cropped up often in discussions with Papineau residents, especially among some newer immigrants who were opposed to gay marriage, abortion, and legal reform on marijuana. I could not simply pander to their position. I had to adhere to my own views, which could be a challenge when I found myself being grilled on such topics during a question-and-answer session at a mosque or church. My response would be to say. ‘We disagree on this and since we are both arguing from what we regard as our core principles, there is probably little room for compromise. I hope there is enough common ground on other issues, however, for you to consider voting for me.” The reaction to these words frequently surprised me. At the very least, the audiences appreciated the fact that I gave them straight answers to hard questions, even if they weren’t always the answers they wanted to hear.'” P. 191-2

He appointed the most diverse cabinet ever – with 50% women – because, he said when asked, “it is 2015”. “Canada is perhaps the only country on earth that is strong because of our differences, not despite them. Diversity is core to who we are, to what makes us a successful country.” P. 195

“Canada’s success did not happen by accident and it won’t continue without effort. This magnificent, unlikely country was founded on a bold new premise: that people of different beliefs and backgrounds, from all corners of the world, could come together to build a better life for themselves and for their children than they ever could have alone. This new idea that diversity is strength. Not a challenge to be overcome or tolerated.” – from Trudeau’s speech announcing his bid for the Liberal Party of Canada leadership

The road this country had been going down prior to the last election was one of division and fear, where the heart of what makes us Canadian was being ripped out of the fabric of our nationality. That government refused to talk to Canadians – of all backgrounds, refused to have the tough conversations.

A new leader, a Worldview Intelligent leader, Justin Trudeau, has put has back on a path that draws on and reflects the diversity of who we are, the compassion that defines us and the willingness to meet across difference to strengthen ourselves, our Country and our future.

It gives me hope and inspiration for all the other places we are being asked to bring Worldview Intelligence as a fundamental strategy to change the conversations and strategize the solutions differently.

One thought on “Common Ground – Canada’s shared narrative and multiplicity of worldviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s