There’s a problem with maturity in our current political discourse: it appears to be fleeting at its best, and next to non-existent at worst.
Last week, a Conservative Party of Canada candidate from the Toronto area posted a video mocking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau fumbled some of his comments on water bottles when announcing a single-use plastics ban by 2021-22. The video shows the CPC “hopeful” unsuccessfully drinking water out of a cardboard box. The video has been shared around the internet like a cold in a kindergarten classroom. There was no rational discussion about the plastics ban and the impact it could have (positive or negative). This was simply an opportunity to cut someone down. Trudeau made a mistake, and the opposition party was there to hammer away at a fairly trivial error.
This video is just the latest instance of mud slinging, just four months before voters go to the polls in the General Election this fall. The CPC isn’t alone in the mire. The Liberals have also tossed handfuls-a-plenty of wet, brown stuff, at their opponents. Both parties appear determined to demonstrate just how low each is willing to go in the never ending battle for views on computer screens.
Political engagement has increased over the last five years according to Statistics Canada, especially among the Millennials. During this same period however, polling firm Abacus Data has found that those who are engaged in politics are becoming disenchanted with the negativity in the system. There is a simple solution which all political parties can easily adopt. Grow up. Stop the immature political banter. Stop shouting down others publicly. Put away the immature props, gimmicks, and stunts meant to demean others.
Instead, talk about actual policies and plans for the next four years. Outline why that party, that leader, that candidate, is different from the other. How will each party make Canadians’ lives better? Tell Canadians how you are going to spend their money, help the economy, protect jobs, and improve their quality of life. That is what we need to hear. Announcing that you are better because you are not “that guy” is never good enough. Grow up! Take the high road in politics.
Campaigns based on mean-spiritedness will not improve voter engagement: citizens want to vote for something. Political campaigning in Canada needs to rise above smear campaigns and petty mudslinging. All the major parities need to just grow up. Time to take the high road.