Another View: Things you can’t say in elections

Tom Fletcher muses on the election and the big issues at stake

B.C. Views

 

Another election campaign has come and gone, with the ritual posturing of political parties and most news media searching for anything they can portray as a conflict.

Now comes the time to wonder why not enough people cared, or informed themselves about the real problems of running this $40 billion corporation called the B.C. government.

Why would they, when the whole thing is presented as a combination of beauty contest and sports event, with endless discussion of polls and “attack ads” and who’s ahead and what’s the score?

Again we have seen the truth of former prime minister Kim Campbell’s observation that elections are no time to talk about serious issues. Indeed, there are some things you can’t speak of at all.

Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm caused a stir at a candidates’ debate when he referred to constituents’ concerns that disabled children can cause difficulties in classrooms.

He didn’t say classrooms should be segregated, although that’s a discussion worth having. He didn’t deny the need for more support for special needs kids. But his opponents immediately portrayed it that way, and media seized on the conflict despite the factual inaccuracy.

West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan had a similar experience when he referred to his study of poverty in that affluent area. He noted that there was a high correlation between single parenthood and kids in poverty. Picking on single mums, his detractors exclaimed, and that’s what got reported.

The B.C. Conservatives kicked their Boundary-Similkameen candidate out of the party because he wrote an article saying women shouldn’t choose to be single mothers.

You can talk about child poverty, as long as you only discuss it based on federal statistics that do not measure poverty. Christy Clark started doing this as soon as she became B.C. Liberal leader, one of several issues where she dispensed with the facts and tried to copy a popular NDP stance instead.

She was all about families, which can of course be single people, single parents or pretty well anything you want them to be.

In fact the decline of the traditional family and the abdication of responsibility by many parents, fathers in particular, are central factors in the problem of poor and neglected children. But you can’t talk about that, at least not during elections.

Whole areas of political discussion have devolved into euphemisms that are chosen because they can’t be defined. Everybody’s in favour of “affordable housing,” for instance. What they won’t admit is that this is code for subsidized housing, because then they would have to talk about how much the subsidy is, and who has to pay for it.

Good grief, that might raise the question of whether the state should be taking money away from some people and giving it to others so they can live where they otherwise couldn’t afford to live.

We even have rules preventing the media from reporting polls on election day. People might be influenced by this, you see. If you tell them Party X is far ahead, they might stay home and mow the lawn instead. If you tell them someone is making a comeback, they might change their vote because they want to be on the winning side, or the one that has “momentum.” Just like any other sport.

The news media are steadily losing influence with the public. There are many factors involved, including the vast array of information sources that are available at most people’s fingertips.

Another factor is treating the public like they’re idiots.

 

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

Sooke inches toward pot regulations

Committee of the Whole has now directed staff to draft bylaws

Emergency dispatch channels to be encrypted by 2020

A switch to digital channels offers more security for first responders, but less public information

Hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of VGH says case of retired 77-year-old veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Colwood applies for $325k to replace stairs in Latoria Creek Park

More than 200 residents sign petition to support grant application

Sooke takes a step toward Lot A plan

Final proposal anticipated for the end of February

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Teravainen’s 3 points lift Hurricanes to 5-2 win over Canucks

Vancouver heads into all-star break on losing note

UPDATE: Trees affecting travel at Comox Airport have been trimmed

Some YQQ flights have been rerouted or cancelled due to some trees impacting the safety margins

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

Most Read