The silly season has arrived. Normally I would reserve that for the so called “news reports” we receive over the summer, but there is an election on October 19th.
Party war rooms are already hard at work, with coffee drenched staffers pouring out hundreds of Twitter tweets, smack downs and stupid comments daily.
Gone are the days when MPs of different political stripes could go after each other in Question Period and then sit down for a quiet chat together minutes later. For instance, in the mid 1980’s Dan Heap was the NDP immigration critic and while a very tough opponent, I often sat with his staff to look at immigration cases that they were involved with on behalf of constituents. On quite a few occasions we were able to help.
A lot of this change in tone was triggered by the attacks of the Liberal “Rat Pack” on the Mulroney government which garnered them many headlines, often undeserved. Who remembers Shelia Copps crawling over a table top to get at Conservative minister Sinclair Stevens?
The hard shift from friendly antagonists to the other side is the enemy accelerated in the 1990s and became the norm after 2003.
Over the year’s technology has enabled the attacks, drive by smears and innuendo to be delivered quicker and even nastier in tone as people can now hide behind their computer screen and deliver them anonymously. You only have to spend a few minutes on Twitter to see this in action.
It was former Liberal leader Michael Ignatief who summed it up best:
“There is no doubt that the way politics is practiced now is much different than it was in the past. Today it is meaner and nastier and you are either on side and “right” or opposed and “wrong.” You are my brother or my enemy. There is no room for compromise and no middle ground exists.”
Ignatief also said that today “it is more like war, with words as weapons.”
Quotes worth remembering as we move towards October 19th.
The silly season, attack ads, fake news and everything else that goes with modern day elections has arrived.