Just another pick-up line

Take one quick look at the campaign trail and you’ll find a smorgasbord of promises designed to attract the largest variety of voters possible. Voter apathy is a problem at all levels of government in Canada and abroad, so politicians have responded by passing out one-liners. I don’t doubt that they plan to keep these promises (as much as any politician intends to) but they only focus on one issue. I see it like a pick-up line at a bar or an attractive feature at a university: something to catch my attention, but nothing more. You wouldn’t commit to a relationship or university program without more knowledge, so why commit to your next prime minister this way?

These bags of one-liners are not necessarily a bad thing — if anything it is quite savvy on their part. For example, a large portion of students don’t vote, many citing the fact that they don’t have time to understand politics (skip an hour of Facebook and you’ll pick up a lot). Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal party, responded by promising $1,000 for post-secondary students. From a marketing perspective, this is a great move. It will attract the non-partisan individuals who are primarily concerned with one issue or entirely absorbed in their current situation. The typical voter apathy in our student population is temporarily overcome because students are poor and we like free money.

Unfortunately that one vote, based on a one-liner, has potentially decided who will run our country for (we hope) the next four years. Unlike Obamacare, I doubt that one promise will make a significant difference in your life, at least significant enough to warrant a vote. Campaigning has its place, but remember that our next prime minister will be passing legislation which will last beyond his four-year term (and follow you into your life beyond school). I propose you use the basic ideology of each party to make the primary decision and consider the one-liners as additional knowledge of the candidate.

The happy-medium between one-liners and our convoluted political spectrum is a look at the platform of each party. The one-liners are more media friendly and do not typically take up a lot of space on the dry platforms released by each party.

Consider visiting CBC’s Voter Compass to understand the major issues in this campaign and to gauge where you sit on our political spectrum. There has been some controversy over the placement of party support, but I do believe it is indicative of social and fiscal ideologies. Furthermore, if you cannot ignore those fancy one-liners created by a marketing team and not your favourite politician, it will give a quick rundown of the major issues and where each party sits.

On a side note, yes, your one vote does matter. Consider that the 2008 election that had the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history at 59.1 per cent. This resulted in the Liberal party losing more seats in one election than any one party has before and the Conservatives rising to a strong minority just 13 seats short of a majority. How many of the 40 per cent of eligible voters did not go to the polls because their one vote didn’t matter? I wonder: of those 10 million people who were too busy or didn’t care, how many would have voted for each party? The results could have been significantly different.

One thousand dollars would be great, but four years of legislation on other issues is more important. A lack of a basic understanding of a party’s platform or its place on the politic spectrum could result in a governing party which is completely contrary to your expectations for the future of Canada. Don’t elect our next prime minister from one pick-up line.

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