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Op-Ed: No clear message from any party in Canadian elections

Watching the Canadian Federal Election campaigns as a non-voting foreigner is both interesting and infuriating. The Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to make the run-up to this election the longest in Canadian political history. Since day one nearly all Canadians have been subjected to a deluge of broadcast, postal and electronic party propaganda.

These messages are often composed in a cloying personal and familiar manner. Little research seems to have been done by any party into the identities or opinions of those they address. Obvious political mailings that have cryptic comments in the subject panel such as “Did you know….” or “Too young to lead” are necessarily redirected from Inbox to Spam unread, and many more slip through to be read and discarded with irritation.

Despite ongoing world events and the many tragedies that fill international news services daily, almost all news bulletins on radio or television seem to begin with election news, carefully balanced for time allotted to each party. The refugee crisis, Russian intervention in Syria, Turkish attacks on the Kurds are but briefly dealt with or ignored.

When the international news impinges on the election campaigning such as the paltry number of refugees Canada will allow into this country or the morality of support of the Western alliance against the IS, party leaders seem to be reluctant to explain or add to the debate on these matters.

From a European point of view the election campaigning and reporting appears to be the public squabbling of children over who has the best toys. They seem to seek news items that deal with matters of little consequence and attempt to turn them into weapons with which to beat their opponents and question their integrity. Much of the campaigning appears to be attacking copy against individual party leaders or spokespeople. The poles reporting daily on the swings one way or another, gleefully quote key events that degrade percentages for individual leaders such as Mr Trudeau’s support for legalizing cannabis, Mr Mulcair’s reservations about the wearing of the nicab and Mr Harper’s obsession with secrecy and control. The Green Party and the Parti Québécois are so seldom mentioned that their policies are almost unknown to the general public. The harder economic, conservation and medical strategies seem to get scant acknowledgement or discussion. Staged All-party TV or radio debates become tiffs about past misdemeanors that have little bearing on the serious matters of state and little can be learned about a vision for a well governed country.
There is just no clear picture of how Canadian politicians see a new and invigorating future. Old arguments and scoring points over opponents seem to be the driving force behind all parties’ speeches.

Where is the gravitas? Where are the politicians who inspire respect? Where are the statesmen and stateswomen?

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