Robocalls, text messages, negative political advertising, video ads on every social media platform and ubiquitous Facebook advertising made to look like news will be part of the media landscape in the coming weeks, now that the election campaign is officially on.
To stay sane, voters will need to be alert to disinformation and those with political agendas who masquerade as “friends.” In fact, it would be a good idea to do one’s own research instead of relying on these scripted and shamelessly targeted media messages.
The Squamish Chief will help, with ongoing coverage to election day on Oct. 21.
Fortunately, the election advertising rules are tough and the organizations behind third party advertisers must be disclosed. Also, anyone with half a brain can figure out who is behind ads about climate change or pipelines, or those criticizing any of the major parties.
Still, with so much political messaging around, it’s easy to become complacent or, worse, apathetic.
Voting should be an opportunity for Canadians to discuss public policy and ideas for improving the economy or the social safety net. Instead, it seems the election period leading up to voting day is bereft of deep thought.
We’re either bombarded with negative ads making the party leaders appear to be friends of the devil while the parties gloss over their own failures and make promises they may not be able to keep.
Much has already been discussed about how messaging will target specific demographics, creating even greater divisions, while some have speculated that outside actors, such as Russia, may use the Canadian election as an opportunity to destabilize the political system.
But Canada is not like the U.S. While we are far from perfect and are certainly not immune to the evils of racism and white nationalism we see in our southern neighbours, our cultural history is quite different and none of the leaders with a real chance at the prime minister’s office are outrageous demagogues with a dangerous base.
Yes, Canada is a country of regions with differing agendas — Alberta and B.C., for instance, will likely never see eye to eye on pipelines — so everyone will see the 2019 federal election differently. But these regional divisions are not a new dynamic to exploit but a factor of history and geography.
When viewing political advertising, news articles, Facebook posts and other media, be sure to observe with a critical eye. Your first questions should be: Who is benefiting from this point of view, and why? Also: How are my interests being served by this political party, funder or backer?
Don’t be a patsy for some back-room marketeer or petty pollster — make up your own mind.