Fear is a primal response, instilled in us by evolution as a survival mechanism. Recognizing when to be afraid has kept our species alive on a planet where we are far from being the fastest or strongest. Fear can also be irrational, making people do strange things. Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are hoping fear can even make you vote for them.
Fear and not Justin Trudeau, is the theme of Conservative attack ads. He may be the muse, but understand that fear is the what they are selling. They are trying to convince Canadian voters that terrorist threat levels, taxes, and their teenagers are all at risk of getting high under a Liberal government. That Trudeau is so woefully unprepared to lead, his election would be a national nightmare. They are counting on fearful Canadians turning out at the polls, and turning to the familiar.
“Vote for us, we’ll keep you safe. The guy with the nice hair won’t” is perhaps an oversimplification of their message, but not by much.
Running on fear is not their only option. The Conservatives have clear positions on any number of issues. For example, some think Canadian veterans are owed a sacred duty of care by the government, and serving in our armed forces should be all the qualifications one needs to be considered a stakeholder. The Conservatives disagree.
Until such time as humans are able to breathe oil and drink gas we will have to make do with air and water. Some think we should value the Earth as much as the oil pumped out of it. The Prime Minister thinks they’re “crazy“.
When indigenous women are 4% of the population but the RCMP find they make up 16% of the homicides, thousands believe an inquiry into why is warranted. The Prime Minister’s radar may have been too busy finding missing ships, to be concerned with missing people.
That people and political parties hold opposing views is of course not the issue. Democracy is well served when competing visions of society square off in intelligent public discourse. When opponents engage in a spirited defense of their ideals voters benefit. They can become better educated on important issues. They can consider another point of view or even, God forbid, change their own.
Unfortunately early signs suggest the Conservatives have no interest in such a campaign. Perhaps because a well educated electorate is what Stephen Harper is afraid of. It could be classic bully behavior, their own fears driving them to instill fear in others. Afraid to debate their record, Conservatives instead hold out the specter of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister as if he was the bogeyman. “Eat your vegetables kids, or Trudeau will raise your taxes.”
The continued popularity of Justin Trudeau in the polls has the Conservative party scared. They should be. Try as they might to scare voters away Trudeau has consistently been ahead in the polls. Canadians don’t scare as easily as the Conservatives do. When the election is called we should demand more from our government during the campaign than scary stories.