Voters have to guard against becoming distracted by the priorities of the political insiders and instead make it a priority to hold those working to get elected or re-elected accountable on matters significantly affecting this country on a daily basis, such as the state of the economy.
Much will be said over the next few days about how long the current federal election campaign period is compared to the standard, now that Conservative Party of Canada leader and Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has called an official start to the campaign. At 11 weeks rather than the usual five-week run, that discussion may matter more to politicians hoping to get elected than it would matter to the electorate.
What we know, or what we ought to recognize by now is that the people seeking to be elected, particularly those with high profiles, are masters of manipulation and the evading of straight answers to important questions about the wellbeing of the broadest base within this nation. Their answers will often reflect their own agenda, which at the heart of it is to either stay in power as the government or to get into power.
Politicians routinely ignore any efforts of the average person to move them away from their well-rehearsed talking points. Speaking honestly about what is happening, for example, in terms of jobs and the environment and what they are concretely doing in response is a lost virtue.
Yet, what most people are looking for is any real evidence of how much a party which wants to form the next government cares for the everyday needs of its people.
What has the federal Conservative Party, after 10 years in power, accomplished in the interest of the most vulnerable? What are the platforms being put forward by the other high profile parties, the federal New Democrats and the Liberals, as they relate to the issues people really care about?
While the Conservatives are doling out millions of dollars in taxpayers money in preferred ridings in order to secure votes, they will spin away from responding to the findings such as those by economists Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan in their study, Economic Rhetoric: Evaluating Canada’s Economic Record Under the Harper Government. Using indicators for job creation, youth employment, exports and personal income growth, the study’s review of data found that of nine governments over more than six decades, the Harper Conservatives earn failing grades as the least effective economic managers.
Don’t expect a straightforward response to this information. What we anticipate instead is campaign tacticians will make a feast of attacking competing parties and their respective leaders while spinning their own record. In the case of the Conservatives, we will hear how they have been successful in international trade deals and are keeping taxes low. And, despite the current recession, they will make much of their attempts at having a balanced budget.
The voting public has become so inured to this type of campaign model that many have all but thrown their hands up, or their votes, becoming mesmerized by empty catch phrases. Remember Rob Ford’s “gravy train” mantra?
Yet, during this unusually lengthy campaign period, it would be in the best interests of voters to be alert to the various political caravans as they traverse the country trying to build up their numbers of decided voters.
What people want to hear fundamentally from politicians are not attacks on political rivals, but about healthcare funding and job creation, about how best to respond to climate change and a national housing plan. Talk of terrorists, fighting Islamic State and balanced budgets are not of high priority to most voters.
The first leaders’ debate airs tonight, Thursday, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Rogers TV networks, including City, OMNI 1 and OMNI 2, and CPAC. This debate will signal what messages to expect from each party over the coming two months leading up to Election Day, October 19.
We predict very little spontaneity. Each leader will stay on his chosen message and will make the most of attacking one another. With little chance of forming the next government, it will then be left to the Green Party’s Elizabeth May to be the truth-teller on behalf of the electorate.