Web exclusive: Protestors and politicians are working together to promote ignorance
Political Parties use strategic messaging to condense platforms into 30- and 60-second sound bites in the hopes that they’ll go viral in our digital age. Rather than convince voters why they are the best party, they spend their time trying to convince us why their opponents are unelectable. This is done by breaking down complex platforms into ads that oversimplify government, thus disengaging Canadians and negatively influencing our understanding of public policy.
There are smart Canadians who actually believe that corporate tax cuts mean money right into the CEO’s back pocket. There are smart Canadians who believe that mandatory minimum punishments for marijuana use will fix the “drug problem.” There are smart Canadians who believe that you can either build prisons or support lower income families, but you cannot do both.
These three statements represent central ideas that were heavily used in the 2011 federal election. These ideas presented to Canadians are hardly ideas at all, but rather distorted statements that over simplified solutions to complex problems.
The result? Some Canadians genuinely believe that the one per cent are rich bankers that pay low taxes and make easy money. The reality? The one per cent in Canada is made up of doctors, lawyers, business people, public servants, journalists, academics, skilled labourers and especially hard workers.
Our lack of understanding of governance has been further highlighted in the tuition protests. Advocates and supporters of the protests suggest that the government is not listening and that the general public is not taking them seriously. But how can one take them seriously if they refuse to address issues such as Quebec’s rising debt, crumbling transportation infrastructure, expensive day care system and lengthy hospital wait times, all of which are factors tied to the cost of university tuition.
It’s true that youth are paying more per-capita for education than ever before, but I do believe there are more productive ways of resolving the issue. What we need is ideas – ideas that we are capable of developing and advocating for. High costs of tuition or crime policy we may not agree with are not a failure of democracy; rather, they are a product of the very system.
The system isn’t broken, but it is capable of producing something better. Let’s stop complaining and start developing. Lets talk about income-contingent loan repayment. Lets talk about corporate tax cuts for hiring and training young graduates. Let’s ask if municipal governments are paying their fair share in post-secondary education funding.
We can step our game up. These are just some ideas; I know that there are more out there. If baby-boomers expect us to pay more for our education because “costs are rising,” it is only fair that we demand that retirement age be pushed back. Didn’t this just happen?
Our generation costs more to educate because of our expectations of the quality of education. Those expectations are no different than our parents expectations of a world-class health care system upon retirement. Without demanding more from our parents, we will be paying off their deficits a lot longer than our OSAP. Lets use this opportunity to advance debate.
By Jeff Doucet