Editorial: Lies, damn lies and election promises

Can you believe politicians?

Politicians probably aren’t as bad at keeping their election promises as legend would have it.

Still, the failure rate of election promises is high enough that it’s been an ongoing joke for many decades. And, truth be told, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spectacularly failed to carry through on his promise that 2016 would be the last time we voted under a first-past-the-post electoral system.

It doesn’t matter how many promises the Trudeau Liberals kept, the one promise people will remember is the one they didn’t.

Election time is a minefield of promises, plans and payouts. No matter which party is in power, government spending, both in new money and re-announcing previous grants.

Sometimes, they funding even makes it to the recipient group, but sometimes that funding comes with the unspoken provision “if we get elected again.”

The same goes through pre-election budgets, another popular vote-getting measure. The understanding is that proposed budget is only going to be followed through on if the current government is re-elected with enough of a majority to pass it.

That’s just the typical electioneering we’re used to. This fall’s election promises to add a few new dimensions, though.

Besides all the usual sorting out whether a politician is going to—or be able to—keep their promises, a new level of hyperbole has entered the political debates, with politicians inflating issues to generate fear in the voting populace.

A good example is Maxime Bernier’s billboard campaign earlier this month, proclaiming “Say NO to mass immigration,” next to his smiling headshot, implying he is the one to do something about the hordes of foreigners descending on Canada.

Besides being a racist message, it’s misleading, Canada doesn’t have anything resembling mass immigration. We have an orderly immigration system that prioritizes newcomers that can contribute to our economy, followed by families and then refugees.

In short, Bernier’s message had no connection to reality, and the message really was be afraid of immigrants, elect me to keep you safe.

There are going to be lots of misleading messages, especially spread through social media, where they will take on a life of their own. Even when they are wildly wrong, polite people are going to label such campaigns as misinformation, but let’s face it, most of it starts out as purposeful lies intended to scare you into voting one way or another.

—Black Press

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