Skip to main content

Quick Links

Information for...

Cooper and Weaver among top debaters in Canada

GNSGNS photo

Michael Cooper and David Weaver made the Elite Eight at this year’s Junior National Debating Championships in Vancouver. As a pair they finished 7th in a highly competitive field of 38 from across the country, qualifying for the quarterfinals with victories over teams from Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec. Their scores were crucial to British Columbia’s placing first among all provinces at the competition, and as such they shared in the prestigious Linda Martin Award for top province. The competition began with two prepared rounds on “BIRT plural marriage should be accepted as a legitimate family construct in Canada.” Michael and David worked for weeks on their affirmative and negative cases, and in fact practiced against three of the giants of GNS debate history: Robert Bailey ’04, Elspeth Easton ’10, and Colleen McCutcheon ’10. Dr. Geoff Buerger, GNS’s Debate Coach, said that “Michael & David won their prepared debates handily, and had they reached the Grand Final (which was on the prepared topic) they likely would have won it—their affirmative and negative were both better researched and more compelling than either of the finalists.” They were ousted from the Elite Eight by the eventual champion, a fine team from Nova Scotia, in an intense debate on the topic “BIRT This House regrets the Arab Spring.”When asked what the highlight of the tournament was, Michael said “The Quarter-Finals. Rory Flynn [who would go on to win the tournament] is an incredible debater, and yet it was our most exceptional performance of the year. David in particular was the best I have ever seen him.” David followed that by saying, “I went off script—completely! But it’s important to be able to adapt your case, especially against a very talented opponent.” Making the Elite Eight at Nationals is a remarkable achievement in any endeavor, especially in debating. No matter how strong a team is, winning the National Championship often hinges on which side of which topic they draw, in front of which judges. Coach Geoff Buerger told the boys before the tournament, “If the cards fall our way, GNS could very well win it all”—and they nearly did! It was a great performance by Michael and David, complete with careful preparation, intense practice, broad general knowledge, the application of impressive analytical skills, and, of course, their remarkable ability to articulate difficult concepts clearly and persuasively. It has been a wonderful year for GNS Debate and for first-year Coach, Dr. Buerger. In summarizing what this achievement means, he said “The extent of their achievement is best appreciated through their journey to the Elite Eight: first they had to be selected for the GNS contingent at Regionals (no mean feat to begin with!), through which they had to qualify for Provincials in competition with some very strong grade 10 teams. At Provincials in Trail they were again the top Grade 9 team in the competition, qualifying to represent BC at Nationals. In the preliminary rounds they encountered teams from Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, all of whom had reached the National Championships through similar stringent selection processes. To reach the quarterfinals they had both to win their preliminaries and score well in speakers’ points—7th in the nation (especially THIS nation!) requires both decisive argumentation and eloquent delivery.” Michael Cooper and David Weaver have written another brilliant chapter in our distinguished history of excellence in Debate—well done!