Brian Topp knows the words -

Brian Topp knows the words


After a series of testimonials from young and old, Shirley Douglas, something like the Queen Mother in this place, stood from her wheelchair to speak. The room went quiet. Cell phones were procured to snap pictures. “As New Democrats we can win. With Brian Topp we will win,” she said. “We will win for a more equal Canada. And don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.”

After a short film on the life and times and friends of Mr. Topp, the man himself emerged to chants of his conveniently chantable first name. He pumped his fist and smiled and took his place behind the lectern at the end of the stage. The speech he delivered was probably something like one of the speeches he might’ve written for Jack Layton, with a few nods to the student of international politics that Mr. Topp is. It was about everything New Democrats are against and everything Mr. Topp would like them to do. He chided the other side and appealed to history. It was not rip-roaring. He has settled on a fist pump that seems to fit, but he does not yet know how to emote for the cameras. He is not yet able to make it seem like standing on stage is as normal for him as lounging on the couch is for the rest of us. He is neither tall, nor broad-shouldered. But he knows the words and as he proceeded with a roll call of aspirations it was his mob around the stage that carried the room, calling out “YES!” to every shout out to social justice and arts funding.

He promised, in workmanlike fashion, to “get the job done.” And then he smiled that slightly bashful smile and greeted his family and hugged Ed Broadbent.


Brian Topp knows the words

  1. “He is neither tall, nor broad-shouldered.”

    Anjana Ahuja ~ Daily Telegraph: 

    It will be in dismay at yet another piece of research proving that, for voters, it is not so much what you say but how you say it that matters. Deep-voiced politicians are more electorally alluring than high-pitched rivals – and this applies to both male and female power-seekers. 

    Having written a book with a psychologist about how people choose leaders, I know a little about the calculation of allure. I know that voters aren’t always “rational”. They don’t read manifestos, mull over CVs, listen to critics, and place their X accordingly. No, when volunteers in psychology experiments are presented with cleverly designed voting options, they are indecently swayed by such attributes as height, a strong jawline, a gravelly voice, talkativeness – and a Y-chromosome. Just look at our movers and shakers in politics and business – they are disproportionately tall, strong-jawed and male.

    The explanation for this, as my tall, strong-jawed co-writer and I discovered, can be found in our Stone Age brains. Somewhere deep in our psyche, we have a “leadership template” bequeathed by our ancestors. Back in the days when life was feral and strangers meant violence, we sought out leaders who were imposing, physically strong and ready to fight. And what do a baritone voice and a square jaw tell us? That their owner is generously endowed with testosterone, the hormone associated with aggression and strength.

    So even today, we pick the same sort of leaders our ancestors would have chosen. The way we look and the way we orate radiate a wealth of biological information, to which our forebears were exquisitely attuned for the sake of survival.