The Great Canadian Debate

poutineElection season is in full swing. There isn’t a day goes by where you don’t see Justin, Stephen, Thomas or Elizabeth promising some tax cut or infusion into the local economy at their latest whistle stop on the campaign trail.

There are some very real, important issues this election—the looming recession, economic growth, health care, separatism, the environment.

Today I want to address one of the greatest debates this country has ever seen: who has the best poutine.

I discovered the answer to this question of national importance a few weeks ago when our friend Tony brought us the brisket poutine from The Big Smoke food truck on Highway 38 in Harrowsmith.

It was poutine heaven. Huge white curds melting on crispy, perfectly-cooked fries with smoke-infused beef gravy dripping with flavour. The piece de resistance was huge chunks of tender Texan-style brisket that melted in your mouth. I inhaled it in minutes.

This week’s #HappyAct is to take part in this national pastime and vote for your favourite poutine. Visit my new friends at The Big Smoke and tell me what you think. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed–and that’s one campaign promise you can count on.

Here’s just something for fun. Find out your taste in men, based on how you like your poutine, from Buzzfeed. I got the lumbersexual bad boy— “a badass dude who has a majestic beard and makes homemade french fries using a manual potato slicer”. See what your taste cooks up!

What would you do: take the commons test

what would you doA psychology professor from the University of Maryland recently posed an offer to his class to earn extra credits for their term paper. The offer was they could choose to add two points or six points to their individual grade, but with one important catch. If more than 10% of the class selected six points, no one would get any extra marks.

This challenge went viral when one of his students shared it on Twitter. I read about it in this Toronto Star article.

More than 10% chose the six points, so none of the class got extra grades. In the 7-8 years he’s been doing this test, only one class achieved a 2 point increase for everyone. He said many professors in his field have been using this test for years with similar results.

What’s interesting about this challenge is it forces students to consider whether they should only focus on advancing their own interests, or think globally for the greater good.

I’ve always been a firm believer that as human beings we are inherently selfish. We are wired to think about ourselves first and act in a manner that forwards our own interests. The best we can do is to try to make choices that benefit us while benefitting others at the same time.

The professor uses this test to teach his students more than social psychology, but as a reality check for today’s generation. With real and very scary problems like global warming, limited food supply and other issues facing us on a global scale, the lesson here is obvious. We need to start thinking and acting globally, even if it means sacrificing individual gains in order to survive and thrive as a society.

Some of the insights in the article were fascinating. One study looked at the success hotels had in encouraging guests to reuse towels. Researchers found that it was more effective if the message appealed to social norms. The message “Join your fellow guests in helping save the environment” resulted in more guests reusing their towels than a direct plea to save the environment.

This week’s #HappyAct is to pass the commons test the next time you are challenged to choose between your own interests and the greater good. This is an election year in Canada. Let’s give the commons test new meaning as we prepare to elect representatives to our own House of Commons. Let’s demand our leaders do away with partisan politics and address and take action on the important issues that affect all Canadians and our planet.