The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Oct. 8, 2014
The saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” but in politics it seems to go, “when the going gets tough, the tough get dirty.”
This unfortunately means moderates are left to either remain dignified or rise to their opponents’ level (in this case, lower themselves to below a level of decency).
With less than three weeks until the municipal election — one which is guaranteed to replace at least 40 per cent of councillors — the politics and insults are finally being levied consistently.
Allegations include, but are in no way limited to: candidates being backed in part, full or even having their entire campaigns orchestrated and managed by partisan organizations (political parties, labour unions, even business interests); candidates running in defined slates, a no-no according to the Ontario Municipal Elections Act; candidates and their supporters spreading false rumours at the door about their opponents and in one ward even delivering flyers door-to-door with unsubstantiated and false claims; and of course, open attacks, insults and jeers being tossed about casually through traditional media, via online forums and social media.
This is all to be expected. While the first day candidates could file their papers to run was Jan. 2, 2014, municipal campaign veterans know the real campaign doesn’t really start until after Labour Day.
There is much to be said for candidates who did register at the first opportunity: they had the drive, determination and dedication to demonstrate to their fellow constituents that they were serious about campaigning. However, the downside to filing early is that the limited funding available (roughly $20,000 for councillors, and roughly $200,000 for mayor) has to be spread over a period of 10 months, rather than the two after Labour Day.
Merits aside, all this to say, while it may seem the negativity and attacks are just starting to be levied now, the true campaign is just past the halfway point.
While negative campaigning has been proven to be successful in many facets and to many demographics, at the municipal level in a city the size of Windsor, they often do more harm than good.
Attacks are often perceived as petty, insulting and demeaning of character, whereas arguing the merits of plans and policies and generally introducing yourself and your plan to voters resonates extremely well.
And while it’s to be expected, it does not need to be tolerated. You can show candidates how well their various campaign styles work through your vote.
On the night of Oct. 27 urbanites will meet their new council and see the effectiveness of the various campaign styles.
A true positive is that Premier Kathleen Wynne seems intent on following through on her pledge to introduce ranked voting — in which voters would rank their choice of candidates in order of preference from most to least — come 2018.
My advice to candidates: keep your head high and stick to your plan.
As one candidate said to me, “Don’t let the compliments go to your head, and don’t let the insults go to your heart.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.