Jordan: If at various times during the past month you’ve wanted to scream at politicians to stop complaining about one another and talk about things that matter to you. Oh, you’re not alone.
News Clip: You called them tax cheats. There are these are the people in our community with the welfare saving us money services. And of course everyone else invest that’s what you’re offering. No one can understand.
Jordan: Rosemary Barton gets to do that live on television the rest of us get to complain on Facebook and Twitter.
But here is the question that has been nagging at me during this whole campaign is the complaint that this campaign is all name-calling and no policy actually reflective of what most Canadians want or is it just something that we like to say because it reflects well on us, I’m not judging here.
I’m just wondering think about the last time. You had a casual political chat with somebody in real life. Did you use that chat to dissect the climate platforms of the various parties and assess their cuts to greenhouse gases or did you wonder why Andrew Scheer is a dual citizen or laugh at Justin Trudeau’s moral hypocrisy when it comes to candidates with questionable past as born in Canada.
News Clip: My mom was born in Mississauga. My dad was born in the United States. I grew up my whole life in Canada, and that’s how I’ve always never tried. Andrew Scheer went after the Liberals for using two planes one plane to carry people the other I’m told to carry cargo. I want you to take a look at how the…
Jordan: Meanwhile what we’re trying to figure out today is what this campaign is actually about and what Canadians want from it.
Is it about race or is it about accusations of racism? Is it about the climate crisis or about how much your little the carbon tax will hurt you personally is it? Out big policy ideas, or is it about things your local candidates said and now have to apologize for I think we would all like this election to be about big policy ideas.
It’s just that there’s less than two weeks to go. I’m not sure we’ve actually dug into anything yet. So can we please. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings, and this is the big story Cormac McSweeney covers Parliament Hill and this entire election campaign for Rogers Radio and for city news and for us. Hi Cormac are you tired yet?
Cormac: I’m trying to drink as much caffeine as possible to keep myself going but I’m gonna get through it. I think I’ll survive.
Jordan: If I had to ask you because you’ve been on whatever the biggest story of the day is kind of as this campaign has rolled on if I asked you to pick a theme or something larger than you know the issue of the day, what would you say this election has been about has it been about anything.
Cormac: You know, I think there are some really important policy discussions to be had and a lot of very important and very big promises being made by a lot of the parties in this election. And yet it seems like the focus and the spotlight throughout the campaign has more been about the controversies and the politics and the political fights in the nastiness.
Then the actual policies that the parties are putting forward and it’s happening in a way that I think. Is unlike anything we’ve really seen in previous elections in the lead-up to this
Jordan: give us an example for people who haven’t been following this, you know day to day to day what it’s been like to have these many scandals sort of pop up in a new cycle.
Cormac: Well, it’s interesting. I mean, you know, you’re trying to focus on the announcements of the party leaders and what exactly they’re proposing and you want to try and dig through the numbers and let voters know whether things add up or not in their platform. Terms whether this seems like it’s a plan that would be good for the nation what the science says on X or what the studies say on Y and yet constantly while you’re trying to look into these things, you know, you’re being bombarded with some mini Scandal some much larger big scandals that need to be discussed.
I mean we’ve seen so many candidates have their past thrown at them which we have seen in other elections as well, but it’s been growing increasingly with every election that we see previous comments or social media posts, which I think does play a role in all of this coming back to haunt candidates and party leaders who have to decide whether they stand by this person over, you know something they may have said in the past that.
Misogynistic or homophobic or anti or pro-abortion? So these sorts of things have been popping up left right and center but then again you’ve got these big ones that really just they’re more than just a flash in the pan day or two story. They’ve lasted throughout this campaign. I mean who’d of thought months ago that during this election campaign.
We would have an incumbent prime minister on the campaign Trail dealing with a black face scandal with. Multiple photos popping up but then also not to be outdone. I mean we have we have the leader of the opposition who has come out saying I want to be prime minister of the country and then we find out that all along they had been a dual citizen an American Canadian.
And you know, that’s something that I don’t think anybody could have predicted during this campaign and it really has derailed the messaging for the party leaders and taken them off message because they’re dealing with these the scandals but also diverted the attention from voters away from the policies and onto these major and sometimes not so major but these scandals and controversies that have been popping up left right and Center on this.
Jordan: It’s interesting that you mentioned the Brown face and black face Scandal because it kind of gets at what I want to ask you about. The larger focus when that Scandal broke. We had a reporter named Fatima Sayad on this podcast and she told us at length how it was symbolic of the fact that the whole campaign was about race and that, you know, we’re dealing with anti-immigration movement.
There is a party that espouses some pretty racist messages and you know, they ended up on the debate stage and sort of all of that and she said, you know. The one good thing that could come out of the Scandal is maybe a larger discussion about the role race plays in Canadian politics and that was two weeks ago and I haven’t heard it but you’ve been on the campaign so I’ll ask you did that happen. Did we reckon with race in a larger way or was it just like hey, that’s a scandal Trudeau was racist.
Cormac: I don’t think we’re getting into the discussions that do need to be had about systemic racism about privilege in our society and the real core matters at the heart of these controversies and that specific controversy, you know, we did hear the apology from the Prime Minister has vowed to do better and to move forward and it did spark a discussion, but.
The nature of campaigns anyway is a things don’t always hang around every single day and the parties are tossing ideas announcements policy proposals at you left right and center and so it’s. If we were let’s say in the spring sitting of Parliament and this popped up this would dominate for much longer than it probably did an election campaign just because of the nature of a campaign and the new cycle that comes with that that were very quickly on to the next issue the next topic.
They’re I and I think rightfully so there should be a larger conversation about this. It is happened in the past where we started talking about about this in the SNC Lavalin Scandal issue. But as well as a number of other issues that have popped up when it comes to you know systemic racism against people across the country on a variety of different issues.
But you know looking at that that scandal and really having the leader of a country involved in something like that should spark a much larger discussion, whether we get that after the campaign or not remains to be seen but I think there is a very valid argument that there needs to be more of a focus on issues like this and how we can continue to stamp this out in the future.
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Well you mentioned earlier that one of the reasons this campaign is a little different from past ones is just because of. The added focus on social media presence in the past of some of the candidates but also where the campaign takes place.
What is social media done to make this campaign different from past ones.
Cormac: Well, look the news cycle changed a while back when it came to social media all of a sudden we have people who are spreading information in a very quick Manner and parties have adapted to that. So all of a sudden a small spark of a controversial story can turn into a huge Blaze, you know going viral if you will on.
Anything and and it could be good could be a good story that all of a sudden picks up steam but more often than not we see a bad stories and let’s face it. Anybody who’s gone on Twitter can see how nasty it can be on Twitter and people like to spread information dirt on their opponents in in such a fashion that.
I scroll through my notifications. I’ve stopped looking at a lot of my notifications because it’s just nastiness left right and center and I think the parties also have a big role to play as to why this is nasty. It’s not just social media social media is an outlet and a lot of Voters are using that platform to spread.
Whether it’s misinformation and that’s a holy a totally different conversation. But misinformation is a is a big problem in this as well because people are spreading rumors and stories that have no shred of evidence behind them and yet they’re using it to try and take down their political opponents.
Now the parties are also kind of responsible for what we’re seeing in terms of this. Campaign being just a big mud slinging fest because you know, they’ve sort of made it that way Justin Trudeau. The liberal leader said a while back that he thought this is going to be one of the nastiest campaigns ever and from what we’ve seen it has been I mean it’s it was an accurate prediction I guess but the campaign’s have not really done a lot to stop it.
They’re trying to take down their opponents at every chance. They get you see liberal Justin Trudeau talking down conservative Andrew shear and bashing him every chance saying this is a choice between the Liberals and the conservatives and he’s trying to take down sheer. With everything he’s got. Scheer as well as doing the exact same thing.
I mean we look at just the the first and final English language debate with all of the leaders on the stage and all we saw it like right off the bat conservative Andrew sheer started calling Justin Trudeau a fraud and a phony and brought up the blackface Scandal and and it went from there where almost every party leader was getting in on sometimes personal and nasty attack.
On each other sometimes more but policy-based but it seemed like everybody had their zingers ready to go and it didn’t matter what the topic was in conversation. They just wanted to try and squeeze out their attacks to try and make the news cut and and get the headline that they were looking for to try and win those debates.
So I think as well the parties bear a lot of the responsibility in this it’s not just the fact that we live in a new age where nasty campaigns can spread really. Quickly on social media, but if. You know pushing those nasty attack lines along and maybe starting them then we’re going to see this happen where it just turns into a big slug Fest if you will rather than the focus being more on policy and I think you know again to come back to the English language debate.
That was held by the comission. That was a chance for all those leaders to sort of calm down focus a little bit more on the policies and you know, there are so many big promises that are being made in this election campaign. I would love to see a debate that was just focused on the policies and the differences between the policies but you’re seeing these these attacks left right and Center against the the leaders and that’s what it came to and I think every leader was kind of guilty that of that in one way or another throughout that debate.
Jordan: Well, that was the straw that broke our back in terms of recording an episode like this is I was really hoping that after covering scandal after scandal after Scandal through the first three weeks that we would. Finally get into a debate where we could have a discussion on policy. And of course that didn’t happen despite the best efforts of some of the moderators, but if we didn’t do it at the debate, are we ever going to do it? Like how how do we have the important discussions about policy? There’s less than two weeks left.
Cormac: I think one issue is that voters need to do their own homework. It’s been said in every election though that voters really need to dig into the policy on their own I encourage. Listen are not to just listen to what one party leader is saying about the other because there are a lot of misleading statements or you know, the spin is being put on it.
We’re all they’re doing is trying to take down their opponents. What will work best for you is to look at and compare all the policies from the major parties and say what what is the party that works best for me? What promises? Are going to improve my life and you know, there are some major issues being discussed in this election campaign that have just been not by past completely but looked over overshadowed if you will.
by a lot of those controversies
Jordan: I wanted to ask you that too because so we have talked about the carbon tax and we’ve had a lot of conversations about climate change and we’ve had a bunch of conversations and we’ll have more about affordability and housing but. Beyond that because you have these things thrown at you all day every day. What are the biggest issues that like nobody is even talking about right now?
Cormac: Well II don’t know if nobody’s talking about a lot of the announcements that have put it been put out there. I think that a lot of news media Outlets have been doing their best to try and shine a light on the policies as much as the politics but I mean look at it.
We’ve got an election campaign where pharmacare affordable prescription drugs for all how. Implement that is another debate, but that’s a major issue where all parties are putting forward one promise or another. I mean the Liberals and the NDP and the green say they want to Institute a universal pharmacare program.
Some parties are saying that that could include Dental think about how that would change your life. If your prescription drugs are covered through this National pharmacare program or you know, your dentist appointment is especially for people who don’t have that coverage. Right. Now the conservative mind you are also pitching a different kind of approach which is a fill in the Gap approach for people who don’t have that kind of insurance through their work.
We’ve yet to see the full platform that from the conservatives but nonetheless that’s a huge issue that in other campaigns could be the defining issue of that campaign and yet, you know, you’re not really talking about it I’ve chatted with. From across the country about this election and family and when I talked to them about the election they seem to be focused more on the politics and the political fights rather than the policy as well.
You also have gun control. It’s a big issue and I think that is getting more play than some of the other stuff but nonetheless it’s a big issue and it’s being again a little bit overshadowed about whether or not we need to have a handgun ban in Canada or an assault weapon, ban. There’s a lot of help.
For home buying that the parties are pitching right now. There are tax cuts and tax credits Galore being offered by almost all of the parties, you know, there’s a huge discussion about the environment which of course is the. Number one priority for voters multiple polls have shown that that is vaulted ahead of the economy as a number one issue for voters and there are some big promises.
I mean, you’ve got the greens and the NDP promising to hit certain targets way faster than the Liberals. Could the Liberals arguing that that would be awful for the environment. It’s just not feasible, but they’re also offering ambitious targets and saying we want to get to net zero emissions by 2050 you of the conservatives who are promising.
A number of measures as well on climate change and a different approach on how to deal with this issue. And so it really is becomes an ideological battle over the environment but very important conversations to be had because how we deal with the environment and how we deal with the economy. They go hand-in-hand and your point of view as a voter should matter a lot in this because we could see a dramatic shift of Greening our economy and and moving off of fossil.
Fuels and and what timeline that could be in your eyes or maybe you disagree with that? Maybe you think that you know, this isn’t as big of an emergency as others are making it out to be and you don’t think we should be. You know, some people argued it could damage our economy. So there are huge issues that we have here that that should be focused on more than they probably are at I’m not saying that, you know, the news isn’t doing that.
I just mean voters are being distracted by a lot of the mudslinging that’s going on in the controversies that have popped up. And so again, I think the parties are are a part of the issue with all of this by digging up dirt on their opponents getting it out there. But at the same time, you know, I think in the end voters if they really want to focus on what’s going to be best for them.
They should take a look at each party platform still waiting on the conservatives, but the. Parties have released their platforms and do their own homework and and and decide what works best for them because there are some major promises being put forward some of them may seem similar, but the devil could be the in the details for you as a voter about which plan might work best for you on a variety of different issues.
Jordan: Well climates a perfect example because there’s on the one hand there’s an incredible variety of expansive promises and policy to deal with it on the other hand. Probably the biggest Dent. It left last week was the conversation over how the leaders get around the country which is obviously like the smallest thing about the biggest policy yet somehow that’s what we talked about for it.
Cormac: Yeah, and I think it’s going to continue for these final days of the campaign that there will be accusations thrown around and that’s what people will focus on but I think if the leaders really really want voters to focus on their policy platforms, they’re going to start focusing Less on attacking their opponents and start focusing more and what they’re offering to voters, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I think we’re going to hear that double pronged approach. You’re starting to hear a lot of leaders now where. Are mixing the two they’re they’re tossing in what they’re offering to voters, but they’re also taking down their opponent in the same breath and you know voter apathy is a big issue. It always is in almost every Federal campaign.
There are always questions afterwards about why a certain chunk of the voting public never made it out to the polls and you know, there have been stories already done about how young voters right now. Don’t feel inspired by any of the parties. Leaders and you look at the polls, they swing drastically between sixteen and thirty percent in terms of undecided voters out there.
But either way there’s a big chunk of people who just don’t know how they want to vote in this election and. You know you want to look at why that is the NDP is blaming the record of Trudeau NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was asked about voter apathy and people not getting excited about this election campaign.
And he said it’s because the Liberals didn’t follow through on their promises on some big promises from the 2015 campaign. And so. They feel left out and there might be some truth to that that you know issues like electoral reform which ticked off a lot of people who feel very passionately about that or you know, whether it be the controversies and Scandals that have hit the Liberals during their time in power.
They knew that they were going to have to campaign on their record. And there were there there are some skeletons in the closet for the Liberals in regards to that whether it be the SNC-Lavalin affair or you know the issues around buying a pipeline while also claiming to be a climate leader, which is something that has been an attack line by other parties against Trudeau.
So there’s something to be said about that but also, you know, you’re seeing the conservatives jump at every chance they get to take Trudeau down a notch and and try and and call them. Fraud and a phony as Andrew Scheer said but there have been struggles from other Progressive parties to build any sort of momentum around them as an alternative Choice.
The NDP is still hovering around 14 or 16 percent in a lot of the polls. The greens have have ticked up but they’ve kind of plateaued they’re stuck at around 10% and that’s across the country. So it’s not clear yet how that might work out in terms of vote totals and seats, but they haven’t really.
It appears done enough so far to really Inspire voters to Rally around them despite what they’ve said despite what they’ve done in this campaign. And so we’re left in the situation where you know, we just have all of these attack lines some very important policies and policy discussions. That should be had that are kind of being overshadowed by controversy.
And a lot of Voters just kind of shrugging and saying I’m not sure what to do. Especially if the 30% Mark is true if that’s I believe Advocate status had that number but if it’s 30% that’s almost one in three Canadians. That’s a lot of people to be struggling to decide who they want to vote for. So close to election day.
Jordan: Well, maybe they will finally get some policy to make up their minds
Cormac: We can always hope right? What the policies out there and I think that’s one of the things too is we must go looking it’s already out there ya go. Look ya go searching on your own. I’ve always I mean that’s never changed in every election.
A lot of people do fall into what they see on the news rather than actually doing the hard digging on these things and you know, News outlets try to do their best to get as much information out there as they possibly can on some of these issues but a lot of that also still depends and it’s been like that for decades.
It’s not just social media or just you know, the the TV news cycle radio news cycle. A lot of that has to do with voters just you can only get so much from the news and if you want to do your digging as to what the best policy platform is with the best plan is for the country. You’re gonna have to go online.
You’re going to have to check out the websites. You’re going to have to read. Policies yourself and make that decision some people already knew that going into the campaign the new where they’re going to put their vote some people decided throughout, you know, all of this who they want to mark their X next to on that ballot and but clearly there’s a big chunk of the voting public who still don’t know where they want to do that and if you don’t know where you want to vote or who you want to vote for I strongly urge you to do your homework.
Well, if you want to do your homework next week, we have four episodes next week the top four issues for voting Canadians. And each one of them will be broken down by an unbiased reporter expert scientist and they will just tell you where the parties stand on everything. So we’re your cheat sheet next week doing a public service Jordan.
Thank you so much for that.
Jordan: You’re welcome Cormac. Thank you for running all over Canada to cover this we will catch up with you. Maybe once the polls close.
Jordan: Cormac McSweeney has about two weeks to go before he can finally rest. That was the big story for more from us including times when we have tried to talk policy. I’m not sure you listen. You can go to thebigstorypodcast.ca. You can also tell us what kind of policy we should talk on Twitter at @thebigstoryfpn and you can find us and listen and rate and review and we would like five stars please if you have them to hand out. Wherever you get podcasts Apple, Google, Stitcher, Spotify pick one.
Thanks for listening. I’m Jordan Heath Rawlings. We’ll talk tomorrow.
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