Editorial: The Politics of fear

Trent Ernst, Editor


The language around this election campaign is scaring me.

Literally. Much of the language being used is a language of fear.

Earlier this year, the Conservative party sent out an email that read, and I am not making this up, “Jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada. They hate us for our values. They hate us because we love freedom and tolerance.”

With Bill S-7 and the Niqab debate, they’re saying that immigrants are suspicious looking people who practice “barbaric cultural practices”, like polygamy or wearing clothes that have a q but—and this is the terrifying part—no u.

We’re being told to fear marijuana, that it is “infinitely worse” than tobacco, which is directly linked to cancer and kills 40,000 Canadians a year. Pot, on the other hand, has led to a sharp increase in junk food sales. (More seriously, about four perceent of marijuan users report some sort of health or other trouble; that number is closer to 50 percent for tobacco smokers, according to the National Post.)

But it’s not just the Conservatives. Liberals and NDPers alike are flying the flag of fear of a Conservative Majority. People are uniting on the left to not split the vote, because, while they might not like the Liberals (or NDP), they fear Harper and the Conservatives forming a majority.

ABC, the chant goes. Anything But Conservative. But it could easily be. Fear Conservatives.

I know people who literally break out in a cold sweat when you say the words “Prime Minister,” and “Stephen Harper” together in the same sentence.

Last week, I talked about how the parties have been all been acting like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. Trying to inspire fear in the hearts of Canadians is just one of the strategies that they’ve been using.

And while Trudeau and Mulcair are pointing at Harper, accusing him of fearmongering, ABC is just the same.

It’s the politics of fear, just pointing a different direction.

Rather than try and scare me into not voting for the other folks, I want my political leaders to sell me on their vision. Explain to me how Canada will be better if I vote for you.

Sell me on your story and I will repeat it. Convince me of your honesty, of your vision for the Canada of the future, of a true north strong and free from the tyranny of fear of others—of the left, of the right, of the foreign, of the domestic—and I will support you.

I try not to be partisan here at the paper. But I wanted to leave you with some words that were written by a politician.

And I don’t want you to scare you off, but these are words that were written by a left-leaning politician. If it makes you feel better, he’s dead now.

In fact, this is the last thing that Jack Leighton wrote before he died, an address to the NDP party and to the people of Canada in general. He wrote:

“Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity.

“We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world.”

After a brief, partisan interlude (where he basically says the NPD is the party to lead Canada to that future), he concludes the letter with these powerful lines:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”