The interns had the tremendous opportunity to virtually meet with Dr. Ian Spears, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph. Dr. Spears’ research is on state-building, nationalism, and conflict resolution. We had an interesting conversation with Dr. Spears, understanding why civil wars take place, and how conflict sometimes allows for state development. We were encouraged to ponder moral questions, such as what our role should be when conflict occurs in countries other than our own. During the conversation, Dr. Spears also touched on why conflict resolution often fails. He guided us through a discussion on how power-sharing – a conflict resolution tactic – may be untenable.
Dr. Spears also brought the conversation closer to home. He touched on the American election and the state of democracy in Canada. He posited that while it is good that Canadians care about democracy, it is important that they do not care too much. When people care too much about democracy, they are unable to fathom when their candidates lose. This, in turn, can lead to public unrest. Since this has not been the case in Canada, it seems that our system is healthier than in places where conflict occurs after elections.
Dr. Spears was also kind enough to share anecdotes from his travels, the challenges of writing books on different states, and words of advice. He encouraged us to continue learning, whether it be through our experiences at the legislature, through podcasts or through the people we meet. We are grateful for Dr. Spears’ time, and enthusiasm for answering our questions. Thank you, Dr. Spears!