The election campaigns have begun and the candidates have started bombarding us with those well coached phrases that sound so good but upon closer inspection are often quite meaningless. Unfortunately they can be very effective in creating fear among the voters.
A recent letter referred to an international agreement that “actually exports jobs out of the country” (‘Are you on the voter’s list‘, the Observer June 11). I don’t mean any disrespect to the writer, after all, this is the way electioneering is done in Canada and it is done equally by all parties. But when it comes to election rhetoric, the outsourcing of jobs scare is particularly ripe for criticism. The simple fact is that it has been raised in every election and has been proven wrong for almost 50 years. Remember in the late 60’s when Honda first came to Canada and Japan was taking all our jobs? Remember the horrible Koreans that were pillaging our labour market? Then came Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, several others, and now China. Despite all, Canada continues to grow and provide an ever better life for Canadians.
I cursed myself several years ago when I graduated with a degree in international economics. Over the years I have always been frustrated to listen to the misinformation that piles up about the economy prior to each and every election. On the plus side, though, over time I realized that we don’t really need a degree to evaluate our candidates. For those of us over 50 all we need is a memory.
Remember 1993 when the GST was the scary monster of the day and had to be repealed? Don’t laugh, that scare tactic worked like a charm. Twenty years ago it was NAFTA that was used to scare everyone to death. Today, modern trade agreements rank right up there on the fright scale along with foreign ownership, the end of the middle class, and so on. There is nothing on the doomsday list that we haven’t heard every election for decades. In the environment debate the term “junk science” is often heard. Well, when our candidates give us only carefully contrived sound bites, we are hearing junk economics.
The young voter has a challenge. The candidates are products of media training and the words come rolling off their tongues as if they are fact. But for those of us born before 1970 our memories should easily trump a flawed message. It is surprising that we put up with the same tiresome puffed up rhetoric every election instead of demanding facts. What is not surprising is that trust in campaigning politicians continues to fall while voter apathy continues to rise.