Up For Debate

You and I are different.  We’re not like everyone else. We may have never met, but I can say we are unique with a great degree of certainty.

Two simple facts tell me so. I wrote this piece, and you are reading it.

Most people don’t seek out yet another debate think piece. Political junkies do that, and we are not like most people. Election debates are for actually for them, not us.

That’s why leaders who skip debates or threaten to for the sake of partisan games are wrong, and ignoring their responsibility to a majority of Canadians. 

Some of us constantly read everything we can about politics. We are intimately familiar with any number of policies from each party platform. We can proudly name more parliamentary press gallery reporters then we can Kardashians. Kady O’Malley and Andrew Coyne, are TSwift and Bieber to us.

We are well informed voters with or without a debate. They are not really for our benefit.

The posturing and bluster Mr. Mulcair & Mr. Harper have engaged in, suggest they believe debates are all about them. While being able to speak directly to Canadians is of course helpful to their campaigns, leaders should understand who debates benefit most. The majority of Canadians who only pay attention to politics at election time.

Debates give those who may have other interests, silly things like their kids or a social life, a chance to gain a better understanding. They can learn more about issues than soundbites, headlines and party advertising provides.

For example, the NDP have promised a federal minimum wage of $15 if elected. How many Canadians are aware it only applies to the small number of minimum wage earners in federally regulated industries? Somewhere tonight a cashier, waitress, or barista may find out an NDP government will not be giving them a raise after all.

The Conservatives made much fanfare of the child care cheques sent out last month. Bold statements of sending more money to help every Canadian family. Let’s save the point you don’t need kids to be a family for another day.

Regardless, are most parents aware these cheques are taxable thanks to the Conservatives? Do they know much of the money they received in July is going to have to be paid back next April? They may not now, but likely will hear about it tonight.

To believe only the ads, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is not ready. He’s been dramatically underestimated before, as I believe he is now. While Canadians are not likely to see him literally knock anyone out tonight, a figurative KO could leave them with a better impression than the one his opponents have tried to paint.

Debates are one of the few opportunities to reach the many Canadians who don’t follow politics daily. Those voters have an opportunity to get a better understanding of the leaders, the issues, and how their own lives can be affected by the election.

A debate may even provide someone a moment that changes their mind. That’s something that occurs too rarely in politics, and shouldn’t be left to the mercy of gamesmanship.

When there is an chance to counter the cynicism and apathy surrounding politics any leader worthy of the title should seize it. As far as I’m concerned that’s not up for debate.

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