Volume 93, Issue 4

Wednesday, May 28, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

The truth is out there

Editorial Cartoon

The truth is out there

Mudslinging in a political campaign is nothing new. Canadians have grown accustomed to seeing political counterparts question each others dignity in a tactless manner. We've seen it in past provincial elections and will doubtlessly encounter it again in the future.

However, the current round of childish sparring between the Progressive Conservative Party's Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty, leader for the Liberal Party, somehow seems more vindictive and sordid than anything in recent memory. It has been hard to avoid the negative television commercials or turn a blind eye to the verbal bruising Harris and McGuinty are laying on each other. Complaints can be heard everywhere from grocery store lineups to Party headquarters about the immature strategies of this election. Yet only a comparatively small percentage of voters can boast a working knowledge of each politician's platform.

There is no denying a portion of the blame, for this public ignorance should be placed upon the shoulders of those who are running the campaigns. But at what point must we address our own apathy as voters and make a concerted effort to become more informed by our own volition?

Let's face it. We live in a culture that is consumed by celebrity and moderated by the 30-second sound byte. We display a general tendency to veer towards laziness and passive consumption. We attach great levels of importance to inconsequential things. We love gossip. We love scandal. And maybe most of all, we love a good fight. So should we really be surprised when Harris and McGuinty unleash campaign strategies specifically designed to appeal to that side of us?

Let's not forget these ad campaigns are designed to target the widest possible demographic – the fact this political race has been dumbed down to such an extent only speaks volumes about how poorly informed we are as voters. If the public doesn't make a conscious effort to fix this vicious cycle it will continue until we're eventually left voting solely on the basis of which candidate has the most malicious think tank behind him.

Perhaps a change in political campaigning will come when the voting public stops passively watching the Harris/McGuinty catfight and instead makes a deliberate effort to become more informed. Until that happens, you can count on many more baseless, irrelevant campaigns filled with kissing babies and shameless propaganda. After all, what's the point of a platform if the public doesn't care to hear it?

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Copyright The Gazette 1999