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Editorial: Tweedledee and Tweedlenasty

Don’t be distracted by political mudslinging in the months leading up to a federal election. —
Don’t be distracted by political mudslinging in the months leading up to a federal election. — 123RF Stock Photo

The next federal election is less than a year away, and the two leading parties seem convinced they know what kind of campaign it’s going to be.

“It’s going get worse, it’s going to get nasty,” said Scheer, who argued that the news media, pundits and academics are on Justin Trudeau’s side. (That sounds familiar — you’ll know if he starts talking about the “elites” or “fake news.”)

But Scheer’s not alone.

In fact, his biggest opponent, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has said much the same thing.

“We are now looking at perhaps what will be the most divisive and negative and nasty political campaign in Canada’s history,” Trudeau said in early October.

Trudeau has argued that the Conservatives are the champions of divisive politics. Scheer, meanwhile, has said that honour goes to the Liberals.

At the time, Trudeau maintained that the Liberals won’t go in that direction, and will stay away from personal attacks. Well, good luck with that — the Liberals have shown themselves to be as reflexively nasty as anyone else in the House of Commons.

Trudeau has argued that the Conservatives are the champions of divisive politics. Scheer, meanwhile, has said that honour goes to the Liberals.

“It’s this Liberal government that’s been engaged in some of the most divisive politics in recent years,” Scheer has maintained.

Trudeau on the Conservatives? “Once you’ve gone and divided and angered people in order to get elected it becomes very difficult afterward to pull them. …To run on division and fear and easy populism actually makes it harder to do the good things that must be the central purpose of why we run for office.”

Do our leaders want a dirty, nasty election, one where parties outdo each other, reaching ever-downwards for the lowest common denominator? Are they each just looking for an excuse to bring us the kind of divisive politics that seems to be tearing up our neighbour to the south?

Or, as both Scheer and Trudeau maintain about their own parties, are they both focused on high-minded campaigns that are based on serious policies and issues?

The proof in the electoral pudding is just how unpalatable the thing is when it actually gets close to the table.

In the end, there’s one group that has the power to determine who gets rewarded for the behaviour that actually unfolds in next year’s election.

How do we all make an election revolve around the issues, instead of hate, envy and petty grievances?

By voting on those issues, and punishing the parties and candidates that choose to take the low road, whatever political stripe they are.

We’ve got a year to listen carefully to what’s being said and by whom. Let’s use the time to think about ideas, rather than about who throws the nastiest mud.

Vote for ideas, and you should get ideas. Vote for pettiness and hate, and you know what you’ll be getting.

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