One thing I’ve been watching closely in the run up to and during the current federal election campaign has been the influence of third-party groups. More and more these third party groups have been getting involved in all aspects of campaigning it seems, from speaking out on issues to training volunteers, and more. But beyond those groups we are seeing another different influence in this campaign, more so than usual; provincial politicians.
In Ontario we’ve seen the Ford Conservatives putting torqued stickers on gas pumps in an apparent attempt to put their thumbs on the scales in this campaign. And Alberta Premier Jason Kenney hasn’t let his feelings about this campaign go unnoticed and has talked about even going out to campaign for the Conservatives. All of these activities, which help the federal Conservatives, will be paid for by the taxpayers of each province and won’t count against any advertising limits of the parties or third party groups. This is another black hole in the system, one that will need to be figured out.
But even with all of that, there are other influences that are coming out of the wood work, of the more conspiratorial kind. And wow, did an example of that ever come out of the woodwork today from Peter Guthrie, Alberta Conservative MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane. Sit back and behold this, which really speaks for itself:
Wow folks, how many of the favourite Conservative conspiracy theories are we missing in there? And yeah, never before had I ever thought of Neil Young as an outsider wanting to rig our elections and bring about the downfall of the Canadian nation. Next thing I’m sure Mr. Guthrie will tell us that if you play “Harvest Moon” backwards, you’ll be given the instructions on how to magically turn bitumen into granola. Sorry folks, but that’s just batty crazy stuff.
And let’s be clear here, everything that Mr. Guthrie put out there is complete bunk. C-76 was a law passed by the Liberals, but none of it was a conspiracy. When it comes to Canadians abroad being able to vote, this is a result of a court decision. The Conservatives tried to stop those people from voting and the Supreme Court shot them down. As for the ID issue, that too was a response to the Conservatives trying to suppress Indigenous voters last time around. And the idea that Canadian citizens who are living abroad are some kind of foreign influence to be repelled is just repellant itself. Also, I have to wonder who shot and produced that video. Was it his staff, you know, the staff that’s paid for by the taxpayers of Alberta? If he is using his legislative resources to put together propaganda against another level of government, well that’s not right at all and I think the good people of Airdrie-Cochrane deserve to know if he is.
Sadly we are seeing a lot of crazy stuff online in this campaign, some of it down right lies and propaganda, coming from within our own borders. While we need to worry about foreign powers trying to interfere in our democracy, we also need to look inward at this who are trying to spread falsehoods in an attempt to mislead voters. It’s one thing when a third-party group does it, but it’s completely unacceptable when a duly elected politician decides to use their position to do so.
A lot of what Mr. Guthrie said is down right laughable and makes him look like a clown with an MLA’s salary, but being 2019, there are others that will hear his words and see something that reinforces their views. Our politicians hold a greater responsibility to not only their constituents and their country, but to the very democracy that they are a part of. Putting out videos like that spits in the face of that hallowed responsibility and shows that he’s more interested in partisan gain than anything else. For someone who rants a lot about nefarious outside influences, maybe Mr. Guthrie needs to take a closer look in the mirror at the negative inside influence that he’s spreading with his own words.