Saturday, February 25, 2012

Robocalls, Scandals and Politics

The media is abuzz these days with the so-called “Robocall” scandal.

As the whole world knows by now, Elections Canada has traced fraudulent phone calls made during the last federal election to a company with links to the Conservative Party.

According to media reports crank “robocalls” discouraged voting for a particular party, or incorrectly advised electors of changed polling locations.

For their part the Conservatives have denied any role in the phone calls and have denounced such tactics, as they should. Suppressing votes in this manner is about as sleazy as you can get.

Yet Tory denials have not stopped many in the media and elsewhere from blaming such tactics on what they call the Conservative Party’s “ends justifies the means culture”.

And certainly it’s true the Conservative Party is aggressive and as I have argued myself sometimes their aggressiveness needs to be tempered.

But the problem goes beyond any one party. Indeed, the robocall incident is really just a symptom of what’s wrong with politics in general.

Sadly, elections are not about competing visions and may the best idea win. For partisans they are more like a life or death competition where the only thing that matters is winning.

In short, many in politics are guided by one simple principle: “We must beat the other guy no matter what it takes.”

And as long as this “winning at all costs” mentality exists it will inevitably lead to cheating and to “Dirty Tricks.”

This is why political lawn signs are stolen or vandalized; this is why dirt about opposing candidates are dug up; this why opposition phone lines are jammed; and this is why crank robocalls are made. Who cares about ideas?; who cares about right or wrong?

Then when one side does it, the other side figures it must respond in kind.

And please, let’s be honest: all parties from time to time resort to less than savory tactics.

It’s just human nature; it’s just politics.


Debby Simms said...

Yes, I was a little bit disappointed with Andrew Coyne's Toriphobic piece today. I have never worked on a campaign where our signs were not trashed. We would put in a sign and bam it would be gone or vandalized. On my first campaign I was shocked. By the second, third, and so on, I accept that they will trash our signs. Unlike what Coyne is suggesting, volunteers tend to be nerdy, rule-abiding, earnest grandmas, grandpas just trying to do their bit. What's happening now is that the media is jumping on the narrative of the mean, sophisticated tories and the hapless, innocent liberals. What bunk! Misleading voters is unacceptable and illegal. I agree that such behaviour must cease. But while everyone is getting all nice -- please stop trashing our signs just cause you don't like us.

Anonymous said...

You claim that "all parties do this".

Please don't try to normalize what appears to be an unprecedented nationally-coordinated Election Fraud.

This is a serious crime.

Anonymous said...

the sponsorship scandal defeated the liberals

Gordie Canuk said...

I think you're glossing it over a bit Gerry. Trashing signs is old hat, as if signs really have an effect on voter behaviour.

Comparing the destruction of a placard to deliberate attempts to rob Canadians of their franchise...c'mon, you're better than that.