Councillor Karen Stintz and I inhabit opposite sides of the political spectrum. But I will defend her $4,500 public speaking lessons paid for with public funds.
Stintz claims that people find her “shrill” when she speaks. I think she’s a passionate speaker, whose voice, like most people when they get passionate, gets louder. Does this put listeners off? I would hope the content of the speech is as important as the intonation. And the problem with Stintz, who can be a right-wing ideologue, is that the content of her speeches can be tiresome, full of unfounded accusations, and free of evidence. Being shrill just pulls the whole package together.
But if she wants to be a more confident speaker and present her ideas with greater clarity, then public speech lessons are worth the expense. We depend on our politicians to speak clearly and concisely and since public speaking can be terrifying for most people, then why not incur this modest expense? It’s no different than the $3,875 Councillor Adam Giambrone spent on French lessons – both seek to enhance useful skills. Whether you think one is more worthwhile than the other is a matter of opinion.
There are a number of comments piling up under this Toronto Star article and all are demanding that Stintz pay for the lessons herself (I wonder how many people know that most politicians have media training paid for with public funds) and as usual, those commenting have resorted to anecdotes (my father can’t get a PET scan!) rather than put these expenses into context and ask if we, the public, are ultimately served better (that’s a debate I would find interesting).
While we should be fierce about fiscal accountability (which is why I oppose P3s), we don’t need to nickel and dime politicians to the point that it becomes a loathsome job that no one of any quality wants to do. If you offer peanuts, you get monkeys.