Today, my sons Griffin, Miigwans and I volunteered for a while at Anthony Rota’s (Liberal, Nipissing-Timiscaming) campaign office. For about two-and-a-half hours, we made calls to supporters to ask them if the campaign could deliver them a lawn sign.
It wasn’t particularly hard work. And in the grand scheme of the election campaign, the dozen or so signs we got a commitment for won’t tip the scales any further to our candidate.
But for two First Nation boys, ages 11 and 9, it was new experience that they really enjoyed.
They didn’t make the calls. But they kept a list each, called out phone numbers for their Dad to dial, and filled out the sign form whenever we succeeded in our task. The high-five celebrations were not nearly as cute and their little hand-printed forms they handed in to the office coordinator.
Not only was I a proud Dad, I was able to talk to them about the election process and why it was so important. They listened attentively when I talked about issues with the few undecided voters, most of whom were only undecided for a few minutes before they agreed to put up a lawn sign. I can’t help but think Griff and Miigs learned a little and took away mething important.
Their innocence was obvious as they not only put on an Anthony Rota button, they were so happy to get a Liberal button for their Mom.
But little do their untainted spirits realize the stark contrast of the Conservative Party’s message to the electorate.
I’m outraged over the ongoing Conservative TV ad campaign. Some ads are just plain hurtful. I can’t imagine how Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (Liberal, Lakeshore-Etobicoke) feels when the “He didn’t come back for you” ad airs around his family. Not only does the commercial unfairly paint him in an unsavoury light – it’s just plain mean. But a leader has to have tough skin, and may or may not be fair game for such ads.
But another ad is much more disgraceful. Clearly it’s meant for a target group of racist and intolerant voters. The ad, showing the MV Sun Sea that came ashore in Vancouver last year, speaks of those aboard as “criminals” taking advantage of Canadian generosity.
Canadian Tamils are rightfully outraged as are others, including this blogger. The Tamils aboard, fleeing war and persecution, truly risked everything for the chance of freedom in Canada.
Make no mistake, this is about reaching the intolerant. This ad was meant to vilify a certain ethnic group. It was meant to vilify Ignatieff and other party leaders as “soft on crime”. It was meant to spur on the anger and fear of other like-minded, Conservative people. It wasn’t overt, just as most politically-correct racism is not overt nowadays.
Fortunately, this is a message that my sons may not pick up on. Sadly, this is a message that many Canadians may not pick up on. Regardless, such overtones are wrong. It also diminishes the character of our election debate, and our own self-respect as Canadians.
As my Boys look on in innocent wonder of the election campaign, I lament the time when they understand what these Conservative attack ads really mean.