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Signs of hope


If you gazed on the horizon early in the morning, last weekend, you may have spotted a warm glow of hope bathing the pre-dawn sky. That was the advance turnout effect. Across the country, thousands of Canadians crammed into advance polling booths to mark their X where they think it best belongs.

By the end of the day last Sunday, 2.4 million people had voted. Overall, Elections Canada estimates that advance voting was up 16 per cent over the 2011 general election.
This is a sign that people are truly engaged this time around. It could mean swarms of people are eager to vote Stephen Harper out of office. Or it could mean swarms of his supporters are making sure he stays.
It doesn’t matter. A huge number of Canadians have chosen the early-bird option, and that can only be a positive thing for the health of our democracy.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the main source of voter apathy has been conquered. Indeed, the cynical state of politics in this country has only gotten worse.
In recent weeks, the Conservatives have stepped up their strategy of inflaming culture wars — demonizing a couple of woman for wearing veils, reframing crimes according to their “barbaric cultural” roots.
Perhaps the most damaging bellwether of our ailing democracy, however, is that the public has become incurably desensitized to dishonesty.
Politicians lie, it’s true. But they don’t always lie, and many of them don’t lie at all.
Nonetheless, it’s become increasingly difficult to defend the honour of politicians when going back on one’s word seems to have no consequence as long as partisan goals are met.
Jean Chrétien campaigned in the early 1990s on a promise to kill the GST, then broke his promise once in power. The current administration seems to have no qualms at all about prevaricating on a regular basis.
In a lament Tuesday, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne highlighted lack of integrity as a key factor in discouraging, on average, 40 per cent of eligible voters from going to the polls.
“Politics in recent times has strayed far beyond the entertaining fibs and genteel fictions of old into outright larceny, with parties, once in power, enacting the very policies they had solemnly forsworn to persuade the people to put them there,” he wrote. “The problem isn’t so much that liars are prospering, as that nobody believes any of them any more — even the honest ones.”
There is no magic bullet to get more people engaged with politics. But there are plenty of ways to turn them off.
Mudslinging and myth-mongering may work to rally a few core voters, but is it really worth disillusioning countless other Canadians?

By the end of the day last Sunday, 2.4 million people had voted. Overall, Elections Canada estimates that advance voting was up 16 per cent over the 2011 general election.
This is a sign that people are truly engaged this time around. It could mean swarms of people are eager to vote Stephen Harper out of office. Or it could mean swarms of his supporters are making sure he stays.
It doesn’t matter. A huge number of Canadians have chosen the early-bird option, and that can only be a positive thing for the health of our democracy.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the main source of voter apathy has been conquered. Indeed, the cynical state of politics in this country has only gotten worse.
In recent weeks, the Conservatives have stepped up their strategy of inflaming culture wars — demonizing a couple of woman for wearing veils, reframing crimes according to their “barbaric cultural” roots.
Perhaps the most damaging bellwether of our ailing democracy, however, is that the public has become incurably desensitized to dishonesty.
Politicians lie, it’s true. But they don’t always lie, and many of them don’t lie at all.
Nonetheless, it’s become increasingly difficult to defend the honour of politicians when going back on one’s word seems to have no consequence as long as partisan goals are met.
Jean Chrétien campaigned in the early 1990s on a promise to kill the GST, then broke his promise once in power. The current administration seems to have no qualms at all about prevaricating on a regular basis.
In a lament Tuesday, National Post columnist Andrew Coyne highlighted lack of integrity as a key factor in discouraging, on average, 40 per cent of eligible voters from going to the polls.
“Politics in recent times has strayed far beyond the entertaining fibs and genteel fictions of old into outright larceny, with parties, once in power, enacting the very policies they had solemnly forsworn to persuade the people to put them there,” he wrote. “The problem isn’t so much that liars are prospering, as that nobody believes any of them any more — even the honest ones.”
There is no magic bullet to get more people engaged with politics. But there are plenty of ways to turn them off.
Mudslinging and myth-mongering may work to rally a few core voters, but is it really worth disillusioning countless other Canadians?

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