Andrea Rondeau column: Bring back civility this election

It’s not clever to hurl insults.

It’s officially election season, and already the tone of the discourse is getting ugly.

I was saddened this week when I was looking at comments on the Citizen Facebook page about the various party leaders in the upcoming federal election. We head to the polls on Oct. 21, so there’s more than a month before we cast our ballots, but even before the official election kickoff on Wednesday the tenor of debate had already deteriorated into petty name calling and smear tactics. And that was just among the electorate. Goodness knows what we’re in for from the parties themselves. Here’s hoping they keep it clean and relatively respectful.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that some folks are really passionate about Canadian politics. I wish more people cared so much about the election and who we’re choosing to lead us into a critical time in history. I’m always disappointed by the voter turnout on election day. Far too many Canadians take our democracy for granted and don’t do their part: vote.

It’s fine if you’re already entrenched and know who your favourite is and don’t particularly care what the other parties may promise as the campaigns get underway. It’s even fine if you don’t personally like one or more of the party leaders, or vehemently 0ppose what they stand for.

But it’s not OK to start hurling grade-school insults. These are about as substantive as mist over the water, and just as convincing to the other side, or even the people who are undecided. In fact, they may turn voters off of your favourite, if people don’t want to be associated with this poor etiquette. This kind of back-and-forth cheapens the conversation and debate that we need to be having in this country, and indeed in Cowichan. We certainly don’t need it on top of all of the flat out lies we are warned to expect to flood in over various social media platforms as bad actors look to influence our democracy (be a cautious consumer in the days to come — truth really is still important, no matter what some would have you believe).

We need to have serious conversations about climate change and what the political parties are going to do about it. We need to talk about poverty and homelessness, jobs and affordability. We need to talk about taxes and who’s paying them. we need to talk about nature, not just as resources but as the basis of the world in which we live. We don’t need shouting matches and soundbites, we need a deep dive into policy.

It’s not clever to hurl insults. We need to listen as much as we need to speak. Let’s bring back civility this election.

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