COLUMN: Attack politics cools election fever

Reporter's Viewpoint

Election fever is sweeping B.C. as we head into a host of opportunities to vote.

Or, perhaps, it’s an election cold, or election 24-hour flu. Heck, with all the elections we’ve had in the last few years, it’s no wonder people are calling it election hangover.

No matter what, people seem sick of elections and voter turnout percentages are reflecting that.

Around 10 per cent of Nanaimo’s 62,690 registered voters turned out to cast a ballot in the March 26 byelection. That was preceded by a measly 214 taking advantage of an advanced voting day.

That doesn’t bode well for the upcoming federal election, harmonized sales tax referendum, municipal election and possible provincial election.

People are suffering from election hangover and the party is just getting started.

It makes one wonder why the lack of interest.

What has turned Canadians into an apathetic bunch who don’t care enough about the management of cities, provinces and country to get out and take part in a democratic right others around the world are dying for?

While the voting public has to take some responsibility, the lion’s share of the fault rests on the shoulders of the politicians.

I know the fine art of politicking requires one party reminding the public just how good they are and what a mess we’d be in if the other guys ever got into power, but it’s all gone a bit too far.

An editorial cartoon in the News Bulletin’s April 5 issue hit the nail right on the head.

The campaign bus is heading down the road loaded with attack advertising, personal dirt on the competition and scare tactics to bombard the public with.

Left behind on the road is a suitcase full of issues that matter to Canadians.

That’s what is the matter with politics today and the reason people no longer care.

Candidates are so busy making sure the public is made aware of every little fault the other guy or gal has, they’ve completely forgotten what’s best for this country.

Try talking to a politician to see what they’ll do for you if elected. Chances are you’ll get an earful of what the other party has done to destroy health care, education, forestry or any other issue important to the voter.

Chances are equally good that during the rant against the other guy, very little will come out about what should be done to fix it.

Political parties must figure pounding the competition’s faults down the throats of the voters is the best way to get elected.

If Party A is doing such a horrific job of governing, Party B must be the answer. How much worse can they be?

Personally, I find it all insulting. Don’t tell the voter what Party A is doing wrong. The average Canadian is smart enough to know when something is going wrong. Tell the voter what you are going to do to make it right.

The one political arena where the attack first, come up with a solution second attitude isn’t predominant is municipal politics.

I can recall a couple of incidences where a candidate was dragged through the mud, but they are few and far between.

The recent all-candidates meeting for the March 26 byelection was a prime example. Everything was proper and compliments were put forth from the candidates about the quality of people seeking election. For the most part, it was about the issues and answering the people’s questions.

As a journalist, it’s my job to report what a politician is saying – whether it’s an attack on an opponent or the issues. But as a voter, my eyes quickly glaze over when someone attacks another instead of providing a plan to improve the situation.

And glazed eyes can quickly turn to apathy and a desire to do anything on election day but cast a vote.

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