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EDITORIAL: Electoral homework

Elections P.E.I. ballot box
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As of yesterday, it’s a maximum of seven months away.

Sorry to say it, but now’s the time to start thinking about your homework.

October 21st is the latest day that the next federal election can fall on, and given the mess the federal Liberals are in, they’re likely to drag things out to the very last.

But that doesn’t mean you should.

You should be starting to focus your attention and hone in on the differences between federal parties. Now. At this point, the candidates aren’t even all in place, and the parties haven’t really started to show you the directions their campaigns are going to take.

Federal party leaders are testing out trial balloons to see what issues have traction with the public, setting the foundations for the full-court press of promises and attack ads that will come with the federal election call.

For the most part, the parties will be jockeying for Canada’s swing vote: hard-core Liberal, Conservative and NDP voters are a given for their parties. What makes governments in this country is not each party’s ideological rump.

It’s the unaffiliated or the loosely-affiliated — the voters who, if they looked back at their voting history, couldn’t really say what party best represents them.

But every individual voter should be thinking about what kind of member of Parliament — and what political party — best represents their needs, including the need for ethical and fair behaviour .

In the Atlantic region, one part at least is simple: you either like the current Liberal government, based on what they stand for and have delivered, or you vote in someone else.

But to put it bluntly, now is the time to look at all of the parties — before they are concentrating on sucking up to you for your vote. Look at their long-term positions on the issues that matter to you, and recognize that a campaign sea-change or a softening is something that is likely to swing back once a party — any party — gets power.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals continue to hash their way abysmally through questions about whether there was political interference in the judicial system to try and help Quebec engineering and project management giant SNC-Lavalin, the party’s polling numbers are starting to drop. As they should — if you’re not a hard-core party loyalist, the current mess has to give you doubts about Liberal ethics.

But it shouldn’t be the only issue.

This is not a suggestion that voters should ignore it.

Of course they shouldn’t — the debacle is a clear example of a crucial failing of the current government, and it should be front-and-centre with voters.

But every individual voter should be thinking about what kind of member of Parliament — and what political party — best represents their needs, including the need for ethical and fair behaviour.

During the election, everyone is going to dress themselves up to look good for you.

Get to know them in their comfortable clothes.

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