Yesterday the Government of Canada lost a vote of confidence over the new budget, necessitating an election on May 2.
While I don’t know yet who will be getting my vote, I most certainly know which party I will not be voting for, putting me squarely in the ABC (Anybody But Conservative) camp. The current regime is the most undemocratic group I have ever seen in Canada. The sheer contempt this Prime Minister has shown parliament and the citizens of Canada is appalling in the extreme:
- The ill-fated attempt to end party funding (the obvious result of which would have been that party policy would be dictated by those “donating” the most money to a party and not about doing what is best for the electorate);
- Not once, but twice prorogued parliament not for what proroguing is supposed to be used for (end the session when the business of the house is finished early), but to cynically avoid a non-confidence vote in the House in 2008 and again in 2009 to avoid answering tough questions about the Afghan detainee affair. In both cases legislation was still waiting to be dealt with by Parliament, thus shutting down the House violated the spirit of prorogation entirely and abrogated the rights of Canadians to ask questions and demand answers of the government.;
- Witholding information asked for by the House on costs associated with crime bills and thus were found in contempt of Parliament;
- Ending of mandatory submission of the long census for those that receive it. (Any statistician will tell you just how skewed data critical for developing public policy will now be….);
- illegally financed campaigns in the last election through money shuffles, a scandal called the “in and out” scheme;
- Maintaining a cabinet minister who, while leader of the Conservative Party, as condition to garnering support for his leadership promised never to merge with the Alliance Party (headed by Stephen Harper). He got what I think is his own just desserts when his girlfirend and fellow caucus member crossed the floor to the Liberal camp without telling him of this action beforehand. Delicious!
- Was admonished by Hillary Clinton for not including funding abortion in foreign aid packages…. The United States lecturing another country on family planning! Abortion is considered a necessary medical service legal in Canada, but apparently not for other countries where access is also needed. This action by Harper clearly shows his religious beliefs affect his policies, and relgion has no place in politics. Not now, not ever!
- The pièce de résistance, Harper shows his respect for science by appointing to the office of the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology a chiroptractor. You read that right- a fucking chiropractor! Anyone with an ounce of scientific knowledge wouldn’t be a chiropractor.
While those are the actions the current administration have taken to earn my ire, it’s what they do during an election campaign that really galls me. It’s been no secret that an election has been expected. The only unknown till now has been “when”. In the interim, all the major parties have been running campaign ads, and it is the Conservative Party ads that are the most vile, and they’ve had a long history of using pure attack ads (the most infamous example of which did backfire under Kim Campbell…).
This is what I think of attack ads: vote for anyone not using them. My message to Stephen Harper (and I vote in your riding, dude!) is “Don’t patronize me by telling my why I shouldn’t vote for the other guy; have enough respect for me to let me worry about that for myself. Tell me why I should vote for you.”
Such ads I find tawdry and gauche in the extreme. It also says a lot about the electorate when the use of such ads is effective. I think this demonstrates that the public itself has become more right-wing (in the American style) and has adopted the cynicism that goes along with it. Canadians have prided themselves on how different we are from Americans, but this gap is closing in some key ways, but as University of Calgary professor of linguistics and psychology Julie Sedivy says Canadians have become desensititized to negative campaign ads. At first, Canadians were viscerally angered by them. Now, they have been lulled into greater acceptance of them and their messages. Sedivy compares negative political attack ads to violence on TV. People have just gotten used to it. I think we have to return to that anger stage before our politics becomes indistinguishable from American-style electioneering. We have to do more than just admire our differences with the US and work actively to maintain them. There are merits in those differences that definitely make them worth keeping.
But saying what’s wrong with voting for the other parties says nothing about the merits of the party releasing such ads, which simply underscores the fact that they have nothing good to say about themselves. The leader of Green Party, Elizabeth May, has taken on the issue of attack ads. While I think environmental issues are important, I would not put them front and center above other issues that need immediate attention, and so they will probably not get my vote. But I wholeheartedly agree with her stance on the issue of attack ads, and so I leave the door open to changing my mind.
It’s time that the public realizes that attack ads are poisonous and damaging to this country and punish any party that engages in that style of campaign. Certainly, they are not deserving of reward.
I’m fully aware of the irony that while promoting positive ad campaigns that I haven’t been positive in this blog entry, but then I’m the voter, not the person campaigning. I’m allowed to examine the record of the Conservatives in power, and I haven’t seen anything really positive in anything they’ve done. I’m left with a lot of negatives.
In addition, I’m undecided and am actively looking for the positives in the other parties and plan to list them here during the lead-up to election day. While I’m decided on who I’m not voting for (the Conservative attack ads make that easy), who will get my vote will very much depend on the merits of their platform. And that’s what a campaign should be about. If it’s all about what’s wrong with the other guy’s platform, then that party has nothing to offer Canada that’s worth listening to.
The sooner the portion of the electorate that responds positively to negative campaign strategies, the better. We don’t need any giant douches that feed us crap sandwhiches anymore. That means saying goodbye to Mr. Harper.