Canadian politicians want you to believe that citizens are only capable of holding a single thought in their head during elections.
The truth is Canadians are more than capable of taking in all of the available information from all sides of an argument without being condescended to by politicians saying they are being “distracted”.
In essence Canadians deserve more than being kid-gloved by communication wonks that think you are too stupid to understand government.
A comparison between how the Conservative Party is framing Justin Trudeau’s involvement with the SNC-Lavalin affair and how the Liberals are framing Andrew Scheer’s stances on LGBTQ rights and abortion rights shows how Canadians are being underestimated by their political parties.
Scheer finds himself in political turmoil after the Trudeau Liberals dug up a public record of his apparent LGBTQ intolerance shown in a 14-year-old speech to Parliament and his recent suggestion that private member MPs could possibly bring forward bills against abortion.
Scheer has said a Government under his leadership would not open the abortion debate, but his current personal views on abortion and same-sex marriage remain unclear.
Scheer has responded to this issue by saying the Liberals are trying to distract Canadians from Liberal scandals, most notably the SNC-Lavalin affair.
What the Federal Liberals are attempting to do with Scheer’s struggle is indirectly tell Canadians they should focus on his personal views instead of SNC-Lavalin, suggesting they are incapable of both. Canadians can easily pass their own judgments on Scheer, while also doing so with SNC-Lavalin. They are not mutually exclusive and shouldn’t be treated as one or the other.
The Liberals are, indeed, trying to move the argument away from their year-long scandal that has seen two female Cabinet ministers resign and the party’s once glowing record taking a steep hit in the polls. Trudeau’s response to the scandal earlier this year was that he was trying to save Canadian jobs in Quebec.
The Conservatives’ response to the ongoing scandal is that Trudeau is a corrupt, privileged egotist who bullied two members of his own party for political means.
Again, Canadians can condemn Trudeau for his actions in the affair, while also questioning Scheer’s personal views. Canadians have the capacity to consider both issues separately.
Here’s the thing, Canadians have a right to know whether their potential leader holds homophobic and anti-choice views. They also have the right to know what happened in the SNC-Lavalin affair and whether the scandal shows if Trudeau is fit for government.
Both these issues can simultaneously be true and Canadians should be appalled that two major parties in this country believe they are incapable of the complexity needed to understand more than one headline at once.
Over the course of the next two months, Conservative and Liberal staffers will be hard at work sifting through videos, news stories and personal histories of prospective elected officials on the other side in order to garner national headlines.
Many of these issues could be major and many of them could be non-starters, but Canadian citizens are capable of taking them all in and making informed choices.
Don’t let them say Canadians are distracted. Canadians are — in theory — one of the most privileged and educated populaces in the world and their leaders do a disservice to them by suggesting they cannot make choices based on multiple variables.
Canadians are capable of holding many complex, non-partisan views on issues and shouldn’t be guided to whatever issue parties tell them they are distracted by.
It is not fair for leaders telling citizens that you are too distracted to understand the complexities of a 21st century election and those leaders should be challenged for suggesting so.