It is easy for Canadians to get caught up in American politics. Indeed, getting “caught up” is an occurrence that has been all the more amplified over the course of the Trump presidency. Although I have yet to see a thorough content analysis of news coverage over the past four years, our Canadian broadcasters, and perhaps to a lesser extent our Canadian newspapers, have spent a great deal of time and focus on events south of the border. Perhaps more than ever before.
Even more so, it is fair to say that the average Canadian social media enthusiast has spent a very significant amount of time over the past four years posting, commenting, and reacting to American politics. And rightly so. We live next to America: the giant (and very restless) elephant.
But I question whether Canadians’ obsession with the United States takes the focus away from our country: Canada, our home and native land. Glorious and free. Certainly, when compared to the current American situation our country looks as glorious as ever.
Our politicians never lie. They never mislead. They never exaggerate. Right?
Okay, maybe they lie and mislead, but at least our politicians are not as misleading as Trump. While that may be true, since when did Trump become the standard to which we hold our Canadian politicians?
Before I go any further, let me say that the standards to which we hold our politicians should be the same – regardless of political party. Do conservatives lie? Yes. Do liberals lie? Yes. Hold everyone to the same standard. And also remember that our politicians are human. They can misspeak and make mistakes like the rest of us. Give them a chance to admit their fault and make amends when possible.
But there have been comments made recently and repeatedly, particularly by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in regards to the provincial government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, that should particularly irk the Canadian public. Why? Because they sow division. They sow misunderstanding. And they sow distrust.
In regards to recent deaths at a long-term care home, a clip of Andrea Horwath appeared on the October 13 nightly news. Horwath said, “These deaths are absolutely at the feet of Mr. Ford. He is responsible for these people losing their lives because he didn’t protect long-term care.”
Blaming COVID deaths on Premier Ford, especially using such extreme and clear-cut language, is not a small accusation. It isn’t a nuanced and reasonable thing to say. It isn’t a mistake.
It is a gross and purposeful oversimplification of a very complex situation.
Let me be clear, there are improvements to be made regarding long term care. There have been issues that have existed for over twenty years that were magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are changes that need to be made both federally and provincially. But it is in no way fair or reasonable or acting in accordance with the public interest to directly state that long term care deaths are Premier Ford’s fault.
Let me also be clear that I’m not in any way comparing Andrea Horwath to Donald Trump. According to the Washington Post, Trump has made over 20,000 false or misleading statements in the past four years, some of which have had strong implications. Perhaps Horwath hasn’t misled people that much or to the same degree as Trump, but as I said, this isn’t about comparing. And Trump should not in any world be the standard.
Some may say that making polarizing and exaggerated statements is “just politics”. Fair point. But should it be how politics operates? Maybe it’s time to change the status quo. To push for a shift in how the political sphere functions. To push for an end to lies and deception. This isn’t a demand for perfection, but a call for all of us to expect more.
To expect more from all politicians. All sides. All people. All parties. And all countries. But particularly our own: Canada, glorious and free.
By: Kevin Geenen: Kevin Geenen is a student at the University of Ottawa. He is seeking the Ontario PC Party nomination in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.