Editorial: Personal attacks against candidates are un-Canadian

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The recent federal election was among the nastiest in recent memory, with far too much focus placed by partisan political party advertising on leader personalities with a concurrent and almost total dearth of policy substance to be found.

Perhaps it is the proliferation of trolls and the caustic commentary originally encouraged by an internet where people could hide behind the anonymity provided by fake online profiles that has led to an increase in vicious and untrue attacks that we see proliferating online in social media forums and comment sections. Legitimized by the complacency of those online forums (and media sites are not immune to this criticism) the phenomena have migrated to the real world.

The recent attacks on the constituency offices of politicians, where windows have been sprayed with nasty graffiti containing slurs, highlight this case in point.

Anyone of any partisan stripe who put themselves forward for political office deserve a certain measure of respect. We don’t have to agree with their point of view, we can even find their platform and policies a complete anathema, but personal attacks should not be condoned in any event.

If their policies drift so far from the political and social norms as to venture into the criminal, then law enforcement and the courts are charged with dealing with that. Vigilantism is not to be countenanced in a civil society and especially not in a democracy like Canada, Ontario and Manitoulin Island.

The level of vitriol aimed at federal candidates and their workers at the door in this past election has reportedly risen to new heights. This total lack of respect is simply beyond the pale.

Each of the Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing candidates in the recent federal election are fundamentally deserving of respect simply for having the courage and the fortitude to go through a grueling exercise in democracy in a riding that spans a geography greater than one-sixth of France.

If we allow this kind of behaviour to continue unchecked, then the only people who will be willing to step up to the plate will be the thugs and villains that characterized elections in the days of the Brown Shirts could very well lead to our own home-grown version of Kristallnacht.

Democracy isn’t easy. It’s darn hard work and those who step up for public service should be celebrated, not denigrated—or eventually claims that all politicians are crooks and self-serving will become a self-fulfilling observation.

We have no shortage of emotionally-charged issues here on Manitoulin Island, the debate surrounding the Mindemoya Old School and the proposal to build a new central recreation facility in Mindemoya readily comes to mind.

As we work toward finding resolutions to these challenges, we should all keep in mind that this is our democracy; let’s try to keep our emotions in check and behave like civilized human beings.