“I don’t think southwest Manitoba is really keen on a slimy campaign. I think we’re used to things being conducted fairly up and up ... I always respected that because we all have to live in the same little corner of the world when the smoke clears.”
— A longtime Tory supporter in Brandon-Souris
With all the political theatre going on in Ottawa right now, and with the writ now dropped for byelections in four federal ridings, it’s a great time to be a news junkie in this country.
There has been no shortage of drama this past week as the mudslinging continued between disgraced senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, the Conservative party, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
As The Canadian Press has reported, the Harper government’s bid for summary suspension of the three senators has turned into an “agonizingly slow soap opera that is exposing a nasty — and increasingly personal — family feud within the ruling Conservative caucus.”
All three senators have stated in no uncertain terms that they did nothing wrong and have denounced the proposed suspensions as a violation of their fundamental right to due process and the presumption of innocence. None has yet been charged, much less convicted of any wrongdoing.
The ongoing Senate debacle has rocked Ottawa with scandal for months, and as it continues Canadians grow increasingly disconcerted with politics and politicians of all stripes — if that is even possible.
Last July, the non-profit organization, Samara, which is devoted to improving civic culture in Canada, carried out a national survey to find out how and whether citizens involved themselves in politics between elections.
The survey found that only 10 per cent of respondents had volunteered, donated to or joined a political party in the previous five years. Only 17 per cent said they had taken part in political discussions on social media over the past year, and the same percentage said they had written a letter to the editor about a political issue to their local paper.
In short, Canadians are growing increasingly apathetic to politics in this country, even as politics becomes more divisive and partisan.
Generally, Canadians are a pretty decent lot. We’re a people who believe in the ideals of fair play and honesty. It’s not that difficult to see that more and more Canadians are tuning out politicians and becoming less involved in party politics because they’re turned off with how cynical and angrily partisan the political landscape has become.
Yet believe it or not, there are still honourable men and women who run for public office, people who wish to make a difference, and who care about their communities and want to see them grow and prosper.
On Nov. 25, Brandon-Souris voters will be asked to choose a new federal representative for a two-year term. While politics is often called a “bloodsport” in this country for obvious reasons, Brandon-Souris elections have, over the years, tended to be rather bloodless and civil — an amazing accomplishment given the many scandals that have hit the headlines for various federal governments, Liberal and Tory alike.
But this byelection, we believe, will be unlike those that have come before. Already partisanship has been ramping up and taunts have flown on social media between political camps.
Considering a recent Forum Research poll suggested Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale is leading in Brandon-Souris with 39 per cent support ahead of Conservative candidate Larry Maguire with 35 per cent — this in a longtime Conservative stronghold — we can only assume the stage is set for a particularly nasty local campaign.
We suggest that may not go over too well with local voters, many of whom have long memories, and deep respect for the men and women involved with past political campaigns.
Those who attempt to take the low road to victory may find themselves at a bumpy dead end.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 26, 2013