OPINION: Time to demand more from political candidates

Former Chilliwack mayor asks those running in B.C. election to campaign positively

By Clint Hames

Special to The Progress

As the political season heats up and the Provincial election looms, I ask for a favour. I have no hope it will be granted and confess that I am not naive enough to think that my single vote matters to any of the candidates.

I also know that the evidence suggests that negative, attack ads work, however, I encourage you to simply tell me what you hope to accomplish if the party you represent forms government.

Please understand that I am aware and intelligent enough to form my own opinions on the performance of the current government. I actually don’t need your opinions on the performance of the MLAs or the fear mongering about what a change might bring. Frankly, I’m appalled by the length many of you will go to discredit each other.

Here’s the thing… If you are prepared to utter hyperbolic, half truths about your competitors, why should we trust what you tell us after you are elected.

I’m always reminded of the Adlai Stevenson quote, “If the Republicans stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them…”

Certainly, this is how each party must view the rhetoric. I know, I know, negative, dirty campaigns get people elected, but, here’s what else they have done. They have, over time, sullied the whole process and cast anyone involved in politics as cheats and liars. Throw enough mud and some will stick. Well, the mudslinging has worked and now most of us struggle to believe anything you say. We have sunk to a level of political discourse in this country that is, frankly, troubling.

Fundamentally, I need to know what you’ll do to my taxes. If you’re going to raise them, I want to know the money will benefit those in the most need. I want you to be honest about what you can achieve. If you’re going to lower, them, I want to know how you’re going to maintain the services we depend on. I need to know what you’re going to do to help people who are homeless. I need to know your plan to make sure kids get the support they need to be successful – not just from kindergarten, but before. I want to know your plan to ensure the most vulnerable people in our society get the help and support they need to succeed. I want to know that there is a plan to make health care sustainable and available.

Take a break from the hateful messages and tell me what you’ll do that will make my community a better place – for everybody.

And before the rest of us nod our heads in agreement, remember that we are also the problem. Political campaigns and “alternate media” rely on us to spread hateful messages, half truths and out and out lies on social media.

Time to demand better of the candidates and of ourselves.

Clint Hames is the former mayor of Chilliwack