Voters sort through election news and views

So, this is what we’re doing for the next 10 weeks, eh? It’s an election that’s been simmering for more than a year.

So, this is what we’re doing for the next 10 weeks, eh?

The 42nd general election got underway last week, in case you missed the writ drop – which is entirely likely, considering in the summer most of the country heads for the nearest body of water and away from the furthest smart device with Internet capability.

It’s an election that’s been simmering for more than a year, with new leadership under Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau for the NDP and Liberals, respectively, taking on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. Throw in the Green Party’s Elizabeth May, and voters are not lacking for choice.

It’s relatively hard to gauge on social media just how the country’s politics are leaning. We tend to attract friends who share our beliefs and values, clogging our newsfeeds with commentary which reinforces our preconceived ideals.

And we’ve all come to realize how accurate polling can be.

The cheap and easy platforms for websites also makes this election a little unique. Trawling the ’net found me at a site dedicated to quotes from NDP candidates selected to raise concern among pro-oil sands voters. Another site played on Trudeau’s name, suggesting he’s ‘just in over his head.’ There’s also the site about all the ‘stuff’ Harper did – and none of it flattering to left-leaning voters.

Some of these sites might look hackneyed and amateur, but many of them are party-sponsored and an integral part of the negative campaigning we’ve come to recognize in attack ads.

In this information age it’s more important than ever to be media literate, to question the source and motivation of the media you’re looking at, and to gather a variety of viewpoints, even if you’d rather gouge your eyes out than listen to Ezra Levant or David Suzuki.

How to sort it all out is something the News Bulletin team will be doing right alongside our readers.

Our basic game plan over the next four weeks will see candidate profiles and emerging issues from the campaign trail. You’ll see roughly one story a week until about the middle of September, when kids are back in school and folks are generally more interested in tax assessments and health-care bills than they are when there’s fishing to do and burgers to grill. At that point, we’ll ramp things up by posing questions on issues that affect Nanaimo at a federal level. For example, infrastructure such as Island rail and the foot ferry.

Our website features a dedicated election section, which will gather all the federal stories we write into one convenient spot. You’ll see the above-mentioned profiles, plus a Q&A in the candidates’ own words, stories and graphics applying the federal election directly to local issues.

Be sure to light up the comments section – following the guidelines on respect and decorum, of course – because we’d like to hear from our dear readers about what issues they are concerned with. There will be issues brought forth by candidates and we certainly have ideas about what’s important to Nanaimo, but we want to make sure those issues that matter to the average citizen are heard.

After all, a newspaper serves its readers and its community – not its politicians. Everyone would be better served to remember that.

Nanaimo News Bulletin