Editorial: Civility in politics starts at home—and that’s important

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Recent reports of organized protestors (some of whom have been linked to opposing parties’ staff) targeting Liberal leader Justin Trudeau on the campaign trail with unruly and downright profane behaviour point to a campaign aimed at disrupting our political process and undermining democracy in this country.

Passion is a vitally important aspect of community activism and is an admirable trait, but sometimes those passions can step over the line. Unfortunately, the recent protests are clearly not spontaneous eruptions of overzealous advocates aimed at bringing their concerns to the attention of the electorate, but rather plots hatched in the dim recesses of party backrooms.

Whatever one’s political beliefs, using such tactics does no one a service and, in fact, does each and every one of us a disservice.

After nearly two years of intermittent lockdowns and the accompanying economic turmoil and inconvenience of temporary infringements on our rights and freedoms people are understandably angry and frightened. There are those who would use those fears, frustration and infringements as levers for personal and political gain. There is a word for that kind of sociopathic behaviour—despicable.

Criticism of a party’s platform, highlighting a party leader’s record in power, showcasing perceived shortcomings of individual candidates—all these are more than fair game in the hurly burly world of politics. But when the partisan goons come out to play, trashing election signs, disrupting gatherings where people have come out to hear a candidate speak, all these point to a path to a world we narrowly escaped barely a generation ago.

The blood of hundreds of thousands of Canada’s sons and daughters lie soaked into the fields of foreign lands (and even upon our own borders) in order to protect and preserve our democratic way of life; sacrifices made by those who did far more than simply mouth the words “we stand on guard for thee.” Those who seek to disrupt our political processes through violence and intimidation, be they from the left, the centre or the right, profane those sacrifices.

We have come through the recent travails of the global pandemic in relatively good shape thanks to the care and efforts of leaders of all political stripes. Politicians of all parties have made missteps on the path to ensuring a safer future for all of us. None of those politicians deserve the kind of jackboot provocation currently being practiced on the campaign trail by those seeking to manipulate public opinion for their own benefit.

On September 8 the Canadian electorate will have the opportunity to pass judgement. Between now and then, it behooves us all to pay close attention to those slithering in the shadows—for therein lie the true threat to our rights and freedoms.