ANTIGONISH: It was raining the first day Linden MacIntyre stepped foot on the StFX campus.
As he was being shuffled into the auditorium of the chapel, wearing an oversized black robe with his fellow Xavierians, something caught his eye. High on the wall, looking over everyone was the university’s coat of arms reading ‘Quaecumque Sunt Vera’ meaning ‘Whatsoever Things Are True,’ a saying that would have a lasting impression on the 10-time Gemini award winner.
Growing up in Port Hastings in the 1950s, the now 75-year-old MacIntyre said it was almost like living in the 19th century; as the comunity had its own little two-room school and there was nothing but open road to Port Hawkesbury. As the years went on, he witnessed the construction of the Canso Causeway, but noted he was raised in a generation with very few kids.
“I think there were two guys my age in Port Hastings, it was very sparse,” he told The Reporter last Thursday following his standing-room only presentation of a lecture in the Schwartz auditorium at his alma mater. “I was part of the sea cadets – but spent the majority of my time by myself, wandering around the woods with my dog.”
As part of the 22nd-annual Allan J. MacEachen Lecture Series in Politics, MacIntyre, who spent 24-years with the CBC as the co-host of the Fifth Estate, delivered a talk entitled “Whatsoever things are lies: Twilight time for truth and liberty.”
The Allan J. MacEachen Lecture Series was established in 1996 at a dinner held at the Parliament Buildings marking his retirement from politics, which was attended by MacIntyre.
Speaking on the dangerous practice of people in positions of authority and public responsibility telling lies and demanding people believe those lies, MacIntyre said society is now experiencing attacks on the truth-tellers, or anybody who disagrees with them and stands up against the lie.
“The world is flat kind of lies – and yet we’re expected to believe this stuff,” he said. “There’s a large segment of the population that are so frustrated, so disappointed in the way life has turned out that they will listen to the most extraordinary promises that people will televise.”
MacIntyre said these like-minded individuals don’t want to accept the world has changed, it continues to change and that it can never be the way it was.
“So they believe these liars who are looking for political support and who I believe have agendas,” he said. “Which is to undermine democracy and have power that isn’t accountable anymore.”
MacIntyre explained the “noble lie” concept was created for important people who wanted to get away with telling lies.
“But the lie that should alarm us isn’t the amusing anecdote that was a mistranslation, it isn’t even a hyperbole that now again creeps into rhetoric,” he said. “What we should be alarmed about is the lie that has been crafted to become a substitute for truth, and is usually reported by liars who know the difference between truth and fiction.”
Part of MacIntyre’s concern is the damage caused when liars get their hands on instruments of democratic power. He said the only way to limit the damage liars do is to know fully what they’re up to through unbiased observation and analysis.
“So it makes perfect sense the first thing the autocrat will do on the way to self-perpetuated power is to attack the credibility of any information source he has control. The precondition for establishing a lie is to discredit any medium that has a commitment to the truth,” he said. “Everybody lies. It’s amusing to be told the president of the system that claims to be the biggest democracy in the history of public administration lies on average about a dozen times per day.”