What's it like to be a guest on TVO's 'Political Blind Date'?

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Image: Nomad Films and TVO. Used with permission.

Many politicians, from all levels of government, will admit that they never have time to sit down and meet one-on-one. Wouldn't it be great if they had the opportunity to explore each other's personal perspectives, motivations, histories and hopes for the future, while at the same time immersing themselves in an issue they disagree on?

That's the goal of TV Ontario's Political Blind Date. The show isn't about playing matchmaker just for fun. In an age of polarizing partisan politics, public distrust, "fake news" and questionable behaviour, it's worth the effort to get politicians to connect on a human level, to see if they can make unexpected alliances over issues they disagree on -- and who knows, maybe even work together for common good.

It's not all about arguing political points, though there is a lot of that too. The series has a healthy dose of light-hearted fun in between the heated exchanges, as our participants get to know each other. As in "real" life, it is much harder to stick to an entrenched position when you get to know the person on the other side!

A typical date starts out with an opportunity to get to know each other before heading out to explore the issue of the day. Sharing a coffee together for the first time, they get to know something about why each of them got into politics, their family history, some of their personal interests and their connection to the issue. Just like any date, finding out about another person humanizes them, not just for the each other, but for the audience as well. They then go out to explore each other's point of view, each having a full day to bring their perspective and viewpoints to life.

On last night's show, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) met up with Conservative MPP Bill Walker (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound) to talk about about the energy policy for Ontario and alternative energy possibilities. Tabuns and Mark Johnston, executive producer of Political Blind Date, talk to Face2Face host David Peck about politics, the art of conversation, logic and passion, hydro rates, climate change and the environment and finding common ground.

About the guests:

Peter Tabuns has been the Toronto-Danforth MPP for over a decade, winning re-elections four times. Peter has been at the forefront of change and new ideas. He is currently the Ontario New Democrat's critic for climate crisis and energy. Informed by his former roles as Greenpeace Canada's executive director, and later Jack Layton's climate change advisor, Tabuns continues to push for Ontario to lead in meeting international climate goals. He also served seven years as a city councillor in Toronto where among other positions he chaired the board of health.

Mark Johnston is the founder of Nomad Films, and executive producer of Political Blind Date. He began his television career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's nightly newscast The National. He was one of the first team members on Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World, a massive 10-hour PBS/BBC/Global Television documentary series filmed in 15 countries around the world.

Most recently he was executive producer for TVO's Much Too Young, a documentary for TVO and Knowledge Network about the teen and young adult children of parents with young onset Alzheimer's. Mark has worked for partners as diverse as the BBC, ARTE France, Discovery, National Geographic, PBS, the CBC, as well as a plethora of other media outlets.

Image: Nomad Films and TVO. Used with permission.​

F2F Music: David Peck and Face2Face. 

For more information about David Peck's podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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