Some folks in Squamish think you, dear reader, are naive and lack critical thinking skills.
We know they are wrong.
Recently, the always spicy Squamish council election campaign has turned vile.
You likely know what we are talking about.
A new group that seems a lot like the anonymous Squamish Voices — this time called Squamish Now — sprung up with almost comical nasty attack ads targeting Armand Hurford, who is running for mayor, and more recently Lauren Greenlaw, who is running for council.
(Elections BC later forced the group to rebrand as the name of the person who is registered to advertise — Dikran Bedirian.)
Elsewhere, accusations have been so beyond the pale and opportunistic that we will not repeat them.
Negative campaigning is not new.
It is a game as old as politics, which historically was even more of a bloodsport.
In fact, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia, ”in rural areas, it was once common to bribe voters with food, alcoholic beverages and money,” reads the Encyclopedia reference.
“In the larger cities, such as in Montreal before the Quiet Revolution, there were many instances of impersonating voters; placing fictitious names on the voters’ lists; stealing ballots and intimidating the other party’s volunteers by the threat or use of violence.”
EGAD. Thankfully, stricter regulations followed.
Negative campaigning wants to plant a seed of doubt in your mind that sways you at the ballot box.
Those with a vested interest in what happens in Squamish council chambers know what studies have shown: negative sticks in people’s brains.
(Side note: Exciting studies are being done looking at the negative bias of younger brains. The work by scientists Andrew E. Reed and Laura L. Carstensen of the psychology department at Stanford University delves into possible reasons behind the “positivity effect”: how younger people, compared with older folks, remember more negative than positive information.)
Voters in Squamish are not so easily duped.
Residents will stop and think about not just the message but the messenger.
The facts are someone in town with money to throw around wants particular candidates not to get in and others to be in chambers.
Rather than count on the strength alone of certain candidates, that person (or persons) is stirring up hate and fear.
Shut that noise down. Read about the candidates, listen to them, and meet with them. Ask your questions.
And watch for bystanders. Like with all bullying, it is important that those not being targeted speak up. Is your favoured candidate speaking up about despicable attacks? Or standing by? That says a lot about a person’s character and ability to lead.
The Squamish Chief will be publishing Q&As with each of the council candidates and a short video from each on their platforms. We will also be asking candidates questions at the Squamish Chamber of Commerce All-candidates debate (co-sponsored by The Squamish Chief, the Downtown Squamish BIA and Tourism Squamish) on October 3.
Make your decision based on what you get from these and in-person, direct interactions.
Show these shady actors trying to influence our election that while going low may work in some places, in Squamish, we go high.