Sunday, January 30, 2011

If Only Politicians Could See Their Shadows

While many people will be waiting and watching Tuesday morning to see if any number of affectionately-named groundhogs see their shadows - or not - to determine whether they can start pulling out their beachwear, it occurred to me, how great would it be if politicians in an election year could see their shadows?
While the federal Conservatives,  Liberals, and NDP are busy trying to prove who wants an election less (anyone want to buy some swamp land in Florida?), the provincial Liberals, Conservatives and NDP in Ontario are busy in their own right campaigning for a vote that won't take place for another 9 months. NINE MONTHS!
How nice would it be if Tuesday morning instead of furry rodent-type animals testing the length of the remaining winter days, if politicians across Ontario decided they'd be further ahead to continuing governing rather than muddying the waters with election rhetoric.
One need only look at headlines in papers across the province to keep tabs on Dalton McGuinty visiting would-be voters in Windsor, while Tim Hudak has been busy attacking the Liberals on their Hydro debt issues, a column by the Niagara Falls Review's Corey Larocque points out the tactics already being employed by the parties asking for our trust, support and votes.
When did a four-year term become a three year term with a year or so of campaigning? And when did campaigning go from what a party is going to do for their constituents to how bad their opposition is for the constituents?
I'd like to know what the parties are going to do to attract jobs, real jobs, long-term jobs in this province and in the communities hardest hit by blue-collar job loss over the last decade.
I'd like politicians to recognize and admit that not everyone that has lost their job after 30 years can be retrained in an entirely different field - or even have to be for that matter.
I'd like to know what the parties are going to do to ensure that the next four years will improve for every person in Ontario - students in schools, parents struggling to raise their children, seniors trying to make ends meet.
Stop telling me why the Conservatives are the wrong choice; stop telling me why the NDP can't lead Ontario in the direction they need to go; stop telling me why the Liberals need to go.
Start treating the electorate like they aren't a child that needs to be protected from the truth, and start coming up with real answers to real questions.
Oh how nice it would be if on Tuesday morning I could wake up to find that in fact a groundhog somewhere did not see its shadow (and I could get my beachwear ready), and politicians in Ontario saw their shadows and decided to go back to bed for a few months. Wishful thinking. Sighhhh

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Political Attack Ads: Playing to the lowest common denominator

So neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals say they want a federal election this spring. And yet, both have spent the better part of the last two weeks firing salvos across the bow of each party's ship so to speak with attack ads usually reserved for election campaigns.
Stephen Harper's Conservative's got the ball rolling with a series of ads attacking Liberal Michael Ignatieff - Conservative Attack Ads - before the Liberals fired back with  a shot of their own - Liberal Attack Ad.
But at the end of the day what is the nature, the purpose, the point of an attack ad? Is it simply to point out the flaws or voting record of an opponent? Or is it a desperate hope that the electorate that you're playing to is so stupid they won't recognize the misquoted, taken out of context, years-old footage, used to make the ads look somehow relevant to them?
For years politicians north of the border have, by and large, taken the high road to their American cousins to the south who take attack ads to a whole new level.
But it seems with too many failed attempts by Harper to end up with anything better than a minority government, and Ignatieff's lacklustre showings - and the Liberal parties for that matter since Jean Chretien stepped down - both sides are looking for an edge that will cast them in a better light with the electorate; even if that means offering nothing more than why the opposition is the worse choice.
Politics is a funny business. In an idealistic world it would be nice for different parties to present different views and leaving the electorate to make up their own minds; but I suppose some things are too important to leave to chance, and to the electorate.
Attack ads while undeniably effective - to a degree - are also a parties own worst enemy and the easy, cheap points gained by such tactics, are come at a cost.
The only question now will be if either Harper or Ignatieff will see enough in their internal polling numbers to pull the trigger on a snap spring election, and whether their attacks win more friends than they lose.
Stay tuned and time will tell.