Political dirty tricks turning voters off
Every time an election rolls around there is plenty of hand-wringing and angst-ridden postulating about getting more people out to vote. How to we engage more of the electorate? How do we engage more youth in the political process?
The easiest way would be for our politicians and the minions who work for them to stop doing what they’re doing.
Two separate incidents have come out of Ottawa this week that should enrage the Canadian public but will, more likely, just result in them tuning politics out.
The first is the revelation that a Liberal party staffer was responsible for the Vikileaks website. This was the one that was Tweeting personal details about Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ divorce. The excuse that the information was readily available public information falls flat in light of Vikileaks’ purpose … to smear Toews.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae apologized in the House of Commons this week. Fair enough, but it’s still dirty politics.
Then comes the so-called Robocall scandal. This is where calls made on election day from a firm hired linked to the Conservative party were directing people away from polling stations.
A slew of former employees at a call centre in Thunder Bay, Ont., revealed on Monday they were using a script to make live calls on behalf of the Conservative party that contained erroneous information about voting locations.
The suggestion, of course, is that in close ridings Liberal and/or NDP supporters were directed to wrong locations for polling stations.
This, if proven to be true, is a lot worse than trying to smear a politician. It’s election tampering and those responsible should spend some time looking out from the inside of one of the Conservatives’ new prisons.
A deliberate attempt to skew the results of an election is something we expect to see in less civilized areas of the world.
The Conservatives, so far, have suggested that if anyone knows anything about the “robocalls” they should contact Elections Canada and have suggested that they made two million calls on election day so mistakes were bound to happen.
So far, about 14 ridings appear to have been targeted. If the allegations are borne out, regardless of who is responsible, the results of those races would be tainted. Byelections may be the only recourse to clear the air. Fourteen byelections, or more, coming as a result of such a scandal, would certainly change the face of the House of Commons.
While political careers may be damaged or destroyed, the real damage is to our political system. We all want people to become more engaged in our political system but who in their right mind wants to get involved in this kind of despicable chicanery? Sadly, this is what politics has become so those who don’t want to stoop to gutter-sniping and dirty tricks avoid politics … and that’s a shame because our country suffers for it.
As an aside, the “robocall” scandal makes a great argument for online voting. If the electorate can choose to vote online, then robocalling would be rendered moot. However, the pessimist in us feels that those who dreamed up the robocall scheme would then just focus their attention on ways to hack into the online voting system.
The only way this type of cellar-dwelling politics can end is if our politicians, in the backrooms and the war rooms of political life, say “no” to such tactics. And if politicians want more Canadians to become engaged and involved, all they have to do is bring integrity and honesty back.