By now most of us are thoroughly fed up with the endless round of politicians who say what they think we want to hear, the media that focuses on headline-making missteps, and the barrage of negative attack ads or fear mongering flyers from the Conservatives.
But while we grit our teeth and tough it out for another two weeks in this, the longest campaign in recent Canadian history, we should remember who engineered this overly long election period and why.
Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party had the biggest election war chest, (thanks to the fundraising efforts of people like Senator Mike Duffy), needed a longer election period so that the rules governing election finance would allow him to spend the money from all of their wealthy donors, and eclipse the messages of their rival political parties by sheer volume..
He said he needed more time because he needed to explain the complex issues facing Canada to the voters. Instead of doing that, he has focused on appealing to our most primal response: fear.
He is playing on our fear of “the other”, by magnifying the issue of the two Muslim women who want to wear their niquabs when they take the oath to become Canadian citizens.
He also is trying to escalate our fear of terrorism by implying that ISIS will be invading our homes.
These manufactured issues blot out discussion on the real issues we should be talking about, like his government’s poor track record on the economy, where he tried to turn Canada into a “fossilized” fuel petro state, or tried to give away our sovereignty through trade deals like CETA and the TPP, or his refusal to recognize and take meaningful action on climate change, (although he has tried to take credit for the efforts of the provinces to cut our carbon emissions).
The additional money that the Conservatives have to spend will doubtless increase the barrage of negative ads in these last weeks of the campaign, as the Conservatives try to overwhelm our reasoning capacities and bludgeon us into supporting them. Money buys air-time on TV and radio, and excessive spending by one party drowns out the right of every citizen to hear a diversity of viewpoints so that they can make an informed choice on election day.
I trust that Canadians are smarter than he thinks and will realize that what we most have to fear is another five years of an antidemocratic Harper government, and will support the candidate who can offer us both meaningful change and also be most likely to defeat the Conservatives.