Canada’s first female Prime Minister was pilloried a quarter century ago for saying: “An election is no time to discuss serious issues.”
But she was likely right back in 1993. And she may be even more right in 2019.
Consider the two issues you’ve heard the most about during this campaign:
One of them would clearly be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing brown face and black face makeup as younger man and a teenager.
And he other issue would be whether or not Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was forthright about actually having a Saskatchewan Insurance broker’s license — something he has since admitted was not the case, notwithstanding past claims by him and his party.
This is not to suggest we should discount the news value in either — especially in the middle of an election campaign where what’s deemed consequential news widens significantly.
In the case of Trudeau’s brownface/blackface, it is news any time a public figure and especially one aspiring to represent us to other nations does something like this. Moreover, such issues have heightened news value when there is an element of hypocrisy and the Trudeau’s Liberals have had little problems implying that the Conservative Party and especially the People’s Party of Canada have racist elements within their ranks.
Similarly, Scheer and his party embellished the Conservative leader’s resume while the Conservatives are running a campaign against Trudeau under the theme “not as advertised.”
Maybe it’s a stretch for the Liberals to now imply Scheer did something illegal by passing himself off as broker. Cetainly, there really is no evidence he acted as an independent, licensed broker. But it is surely fair to consider this to be wrong and hypocritical, given the Conservative campaign against Trudeau.
That said, there’s always a lot wrong in election campaigns and we need to keep the focus on what’s most important to our future than what’s simply trite.
What’s become the biggest problem during this particular federal campaign is that we aren’t really having a meaningful conversation on those more important issues.
Despite everyone knowing the set election date of Oct. 21, all sides are getting away with presenting platforms that aren’t properly costed. This shouldn’t happen.
As campaign attempt to buy your votes with things like subsidies to buy your homes, let you go camping or help pay for your kids’ hockey or music lessons, there just hasn’t been enough about much all of this will add to the public debt.
However, what’s more unproductively frustrating is that are not listening to each other _ even when it comes to what voters deem to be the most critical issues.
According to University of Saskatchewan poll taken just prior to the start of this campaign, the economy was cited as the most important issue (12 per cent of voters) with the environment closely behind (11 per cent).
However, both sides seem frustrated by this.
From those more on the environmental side demanding governments and political parties do more to address the increase in greenhouse gas emissions causing increased global warming, we are hearing frustrations that their views are not being heard.
But equally frustrated are those in resource, agriculture and other sectors that drive the economy and create tax revenue we need to run government.
As Dan Cugnet, chair of Valleyview Petroleums Ltd. argued:
“It’s not just the carbon tax killing us.”
Combined with a downturn in the world oil market and increased drilling in the U.S., Canadian oil is suffering. Cugnet said. And that directly affects the Canadian and Saskatchewan economy.
Yet in this federal campaign about the less consequential matters, you likely haven’t heard enough thoughtful dialogue on these issues.
Kim Campbell was likely right. An election seems a poor time to discuss serious issues.
Murray Mandryk has been covering provincial politics for over 22 years.