Volume 94, Issue 44

Thursday, November 16, 2000


Editorial Board 2000-2001

"Mud" spelled backwards

Editorial Cartoon

"Mud" spelled backwards

With less than a two weeks left before the Nov. 27 federal election, the gloves have finally come off.

The fight for power between the nation's political parties has become dirty and it will take a lot more than a bar of Lever 2000 to get these guys back to their purported squeaky clean selves.

Simply pay attention to the different advertising campaigns the federal parties have mounted in their efforts to shed light on each other's hidden agendas and it becomes obvious a new low in Canadian election history has been achieved.

The mud, it seems, is flying at such high rates of speed, reality has been blurred and the bottom line of what Canadians are willing to tolerate is nowhere in sight.

With the recent development involving the Liberals and their television ad gaffe misrepresenting the Alliance's purported health-care high-jinks, Canadians can bear witness to a level of political pugilism that seems more akin to street fighting than it does to intelligent debate.

Recent ads from front-running parties that cater to more sensationalism than they do to intelligence, mark the beginning of a downward spiral on the Canadian political scene.

Can Canadians not expect more from potential leaders of their country? Are Canadians themselves guilty of reacting to the dirt in a way that makes political parties say 'Hey, they liked the way we slander our opponents – let's give 'em some more.'

The answer to both questions is yes.

Yes, Canadians should be able to expect their politicians to take the high road when it comes to offering criticism and making references to their opponents. These are persons we expect to act with decorum, professionalism and tact when carrying out their perfunctory duties. As testaments to their character and esteem, Canadians should note how they act prior to gaining office before giving them access to Parliament Hill.

But, since the average person's attention span has plummeted to a duration measurable only in nanoseconds, political parties are forced to get their one-liners and lowblows into to as short a sound-byte as possible. This brevity disallows intelligent discourse and only results in an impoverished democratic process.

What can Canadians do to reverse the process to one in which the priority is listening and talking, instead of coming up with one scathing zinger after another? Voters must make a conscious effort to watch these commercials and advertisements with a critical eye. They must bear in mind that the more lowbrow an ad is, the less substance the offensive party might have.

In the end, the truth is that everyone likes a good fight, but Canadians should not run the risk of turning their politics into sport, because in that case we would all end up with a notch in the "L" column.

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