He who’s shit slings furthest laughs last

By Gauntlet Editorial Board

Primates operate in a society close to that of human beings. In gorilla groups, there can only be one dominant silverback to guard and lead the entire group. When the dominant silverback is challenged by another male for leadership, there is often a struggle which can involve chest-beating, strutting, tearing up plants and shit slinging until one male emerges as the victorious leader, and the others recede into the background to plan their next attack.

On January 23, Canadians will take to the polls. And, if the most recent polls prove accurate, which have the Conservatives in the clear lead with 38 per cent and the Liberals trailing with 29 per cent, Canadians will use their votes to prove they are indeed smarter than the average gorilla, and that slinging the most shit is not necessarily the best tactic to make it to the top.

Conservatives, Liberals and NDPers are all guilty of running campaigns rich in inflammatory and accusatory rhetoric. A little known fact is that the Liberals get the most press time for theirs. According to Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission regulations, the political party with the greatest number of seats in Parliament gets the most press coverage, which should give the Liberals an advantage. This is not the case, though, as their aggressive Stephen Harper smear campaign has backfired.

The final Liberal ad campaign, launched on January 10 in a last-ditch attempt to sway voters from right to left, used 12 cross-country television commercials to try and scare Canadians away from a Con- servative vote. But, Liberal accusations that Harper is an American-backed, racial minority and Atlantic Canada-hating, Quebec-separatist loving politician who, if elected, will sacrifice all Canadian values and create the 51st state, seem to have missed their mark.

One of the ads, which accused Harper of fostering secret plans to militarize Canadian cities, was so distasteful that it was pulled, and Martin–while in damage control mode–commented to reporters: “The ad was pulled because it was pulled, and because there were better ads–that’s essentially it.”

Maybe the Liberal’s motivation is to make their own misdeeds like the sponsorship scandal, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale providing insider tips on income trusts, and illegal Liberal money making its way into the hands of “yes” supporters during the 1995 Quebec referendum seem like lesser evils. Whatever the motivation, recent polls indicate the tactics aren’t working.

Public response to this shit-slinging campaign proves that Canadians are smarter than monkeys, and will not be influenced by scare tactics. But, the campaign itself also shows that our democratic system is in trouble. When the party in power gets the most time in the public eye, and consequently uses that time to defame other political candidates, rather than engage in meaningful debate about issues that matter to Canadians, there’s a problem. When other smaller, yet legitimate parties, like the Greens, who actually want to debate the issues are denied public audience by being permitted less press coverage, there’s a problem.

On January 23 Canadians will vote, and when the votes are tallied the stronger candidate will–among much hollering and chest pounding-proclaim his vision for Canada and become the new group leader. Meanwhile, the opposition will slink away, into hiding for the time being, to plan the next attack.


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