I’m back, after a visit to the land of Trump, where I encountered absolutely no problems crossing the border, knocked eating grits, collard greens and pimento cheese off my to do list, saw the sights in Washington, DC and met a lovely state trooper named D.L. McGraw, who was kind enough to give me a warning rather than a ticket for speeding through North Carolina.
And I found that the people in the deep south are pretty much the same as us — just trying to make a living and carry on — even the Trump voters, of which there were many. Geo-politics and trade wars are far from the minds of most people, Canadian or American or Brazilian, as they go about their daily lives.
But politics are pretty hard to escape altogether, especially if you’re in the midst of an election campaign, as I found upon my return home.
The signs are up.
The baby-kissing, pancake flipping, Easter egg hunting and character-maligning is reaching DefCon One as the BC election campaign rolled into week two.
Candidates and leaders are all over any community event as they vie for the hearts and minds of B.C. voters.
It’s always a question as to whether to go negative or not in any election campaign, and there is no definite evidence as to whether it works or not. Donald Trump’s campaign last year was overwhelmingly and immensely negative. There was name calling and hand wringing to such an extent that the average voter became convinced they were living in a dystopian nightmare and things could get even worse should “Crooked Hillary” be elected. It worked for Trump. Negative worked.
But, just a year previous, Justin Trudeau pursued a relentlessly positive campaign, in which he refused to respond to opposition baiting. Sunny ways was the theme and it absolutely jived with what Canadian voters were feeling at the time. Notwithstanding how voters may feel now, at that particular time, positive worked.
So it really is up to a particular campaign which route they’d like to take. It appears this week that the BC Liberals are going to give the low road a try, and the NDP appear ready to follow them down it.
This week, the BC Liberals singled out several NDP candidates personally and questioned their fitness as candidates, including in our own neck of the woods. The BC Liberals brought up Gerry Taft, NDP candidate for Columbia River Revelstoke, saying he doesn’t believe in his own party’s equity mandate because of the way he gained his nomination. The BC Liberals also say Courtenay-Comox candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard compared police officers to Nazis, and that she supports an anti-Israeli politician.
NDP leader John Horgan says he will not respond to attacks like that. He and his candidates can take it, he says.
And it is true that to be in politics one would want to be in possession of a very thick skin.
Thick skin aside, the NDP are diving right into the slamming, taking every opportunity to link Premier Christy Clark to political donors and investigations thereof, as well as depicting her as someone only concerned with her rich friends.
The Globe and Mail reported earlier this month that that internal NDP memos point to the party’s failure to go negative in 2013 as a prime reason they lost the election that year. Yeah, I’m sure that was it.
“Christy Clark – not working for you” is the NDP slogan this year.
Meanwhile, the BC Liberals have labelled John Horgan, “Say Anything John”, more than implying that his convictions are somewhat malleable. They even have a truck emblazoned with the Say Anything John slogan and pictures of Horgan, which has been showing up at NDP campaign events. Journalists have already dubbed it The Troll Truck.
The NDP don’t have a truck yet. But there’s still time.
It’s only week two. Four more to go. Awesome.
Carolyn Grant is Editor
of the Kimberley Bulletin