Suggestions to our political “leaders”

We’re barely a week into the 2011 Canadian Federal election, and it already feels like a month. I suppose if there’s one good thing about elections up here, it’s that they’re short — none of this near-two year campaigning that goes on south of the border.

Already, the various political parties are … well, failing. I’m rather stunned how fast that happened, actually. You’d think they’d actually try to get out a message first, but they stooped to mud-slinging pretty much out of the gate. Yeah, real positive way to foster respect and attract voters, folks…

So I feel that, as a Canadian with some significant sense of civic duty (and certainly more than enough know-it-all-ism), I need to offer up some suggestions to our so-called “leaders” (read: I choose not to lay insults as they are neither interesting nor constructive) if they have any hope of inspiring Canadians to vote for them … if at all.

Let’s start with the New Democratic Party

So far, to be honest, I haven’t heard much out of you. Not here in the west, anyway. Yes, you need to acknowledge that we exist. Hate to break it to you, but if you have any hope of beating out either the Conservatives or the Liberals for a seat, you need to be seen. Guess whose ads I’ve yet to see plastered all over TV? I had to Google them, Jack. That required action: a vested interest. You want an audience? You’ll need to go to them. Maybe all the pick-up trucks scare you off? I don’t know. But I do know this: First basic rule of marketing — unless you’re highly visible, you won’t be remembered.

Checking out your website is kind of informational, but you’re stooping to attacking your opponents right away. Your message? A little hard to see past the oh-so-thinly veiled attack on Ignatieff. (Look, if you want to question something he may or may not have done, get some facts. Nothing kills off a campaign run like a damn good scandal. A mere question will go unanswered, and will not sway anyone.)

And the bit about more doctors and nurses? Hey, great, that’s awesome! What about the people who support the doctors and nurses? What about the hospitals for them to work in? And can you provide the details on how you’re going to prevent new grads from going elsewhere (like the States)? A few details will help prove that these are more than words. Remember, most Canadians will not shlep down to the local candidate to have a discussion. The internet will help, but only if your message is complete enough to convince someone beyond a simple belief.

And for the love of pete, can someone in your IT group make sure that your website works for both “ndp.ca” and “www.ndp.ca”? That’s a pretty low bar, and you’re tripping over it…

Next up, the Liberals.

Iggy, can you actually go a day without saying the word “Harper”?  I don’t think you can. I’m actually beginning to fear that you have no actual message at all, other than to oppose the Conservatives. I’m not kidding — on your website alone, there are over 6,400 mentions of “Harper”! Exactly whose side are you on?

You talk about Accountability on your website. How about some examples? Goodness knows that your BFF has offered you countless examples upon which you can found your statements. But despite being the only party willing to post your policy points — you skimp over the details like a cheap restaurant that uses watered down tomato sauce and passes it off as pasta al fresco.

Or how about your digital policy? You offer up a mere three paragraphs, and nothing else? Have you not paid a single shred of attention to all the C-32 and UBB nonsense? Might I remind the lauded Liberals that there are many Canadians who have a very vested interest in what plans you say you have, and would likely keenly vote if they made sense. Cough, cough. You might also want to chat with Mr. Nenshi…

Here’s a free I’ll throw you: “a Liberal government will not allow corporations and/or regulatory agencies to restrict Canadians access to critical resources through uninformed and/or falsified statements regarding resource use, either as a result of profit or security” as a broad statement, backed up by a list of proposed bills you intend to introduce to Parliament in your first 100 days. Just saying.

Oh, and Iggy, if your party is going to hold up Laurier, Pearson, and Trudeau as the models for Liberal leadership, you might want to consider finding your own identity so we can pick you out of the noise.

As for the Conservatives

I’ve seen your ads. They’re wonderful, truly. They’re masterful of propagating the fear that right-leaning political groups love to instill in the populace. There’s nothing quite like creating an identity of evil for you to gain trust. (Hey, it worked in the church — nothing like the Devil to steer you straight, right?)

Here’s a thought: you’ve gone two elections without winning a majority. (With me so far? Good.) See a problem? Here’s a hint: it’s not that you didn’t win a majority. Let me spell it out: your tactics haven’t changed — it’s still about fear. The way I see it, you’re not going to get much further, as you’ve scared all you can. It might have worked a couple of years ago when the economy was going through the grinder, but since we’re on the recovery and things are generally looking decent … well, you haven’t really got much, do you? Another problem: highly-educated people tend not to frighten easily. You want the rest of us to vote for you? You’d better come up with something more intelligent than mere propaganda.

Speaking of which, I went to your website to look for what you’re bringing to the table. The only thing under “Policy”? The 2011 Budget. That’s your policy? Nothing about Aboriginal rights? Nothing about the Environment? Not even Corporation support (which, we know, you do so very, very well)? You’re not really offering much, here. Your tax cuts aren’t offering much, either, since they don’t really fit the bill of Canadians’ needs. Yes, we do need more doctors … but we don’t need billion-dollar warplanes. Subtle hint.

Yes, I know I’m missing out on the other parties out there: The Bloc Québécois (hint: give a crap about just one person not from Quebec), The Green Party (you need to distance yourself a bit more from the granola crowd), and a retinue of other parties — all of whom have a ways yet to go. All have a similar problem: appealing to the masses. Canadians, as a whole, are generally accepting, but historically-speaking, generally only vote for Conservative (right) or Liberal (centre). You don’t fit into those mentalities, you’re effectively fringe, at least at the federal level.

So, to those who are leading the charge into our electoral fray, can we please dispense with the bull? Can we drop the mud, please, and actually have a real dialogue? It would be nice to know that there is more to our political system than mere bitching.

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