As Canadians, not only are we currently in the process of electing a new federal government at the moment, but we are also presently subject to the sum total of political manipulations currently possibly in our highly connected 24/7 digital environment.
It would be well advised for voters to engage in criticla thinking and analysis of everything we are being inundated with over the next five weeks, and to do our uttmost to hold all candidates to account for their party's policy platforms and funding promises.
Around the world there are those who fight for what we have – democratic elections that are not subject to violence, or corruption of the voting processes. In all four corenres of this globe, there are those who are persecuted for their political stances and views, and there are those who suffer unlike anything we as Canadians can imagine in our cozy privileged democracy.
It is imperative we do not take this for granted, and instead we take our responsiblity and privilege seriously to inform ourselves and then vote. Regardless of who you vote for, getting out and exercising your democratic responsibility is key to forming a government that represents our entire country and works to make lives better for everyone.
The warnings about this election being manipulated have already been made by political scientists, citing a Global Affairs Canada's report on the 2019 Alberta electiona and the use of social media bots to affect the outcome.
Our screens have become a ever increasing part of our daily lives – and not for the better. Recently, Canmore's Lawrence Grassi Middle School banned the use of cellphones for students in school, with the exception of when they are being used as instrucitonal tools in the classroom and supervised by teachers.
Wouldn't that be wonderful for the rest of us as well? Or at least, a diet or restriction on how much time we spend superficially engaging online about this election.
Because we are being manipulated as Canadians and as voters across the entire spectrum of political interests. And it isn't just funding promises and election rhetoric, which are tried and true. It is through our screens and on social media.
Instead of sharing memes and posts that target the character each political party's leader, or even present false celebrity endorsements and manipulated quotes – get deeper. Deeper into policies and independent analysis or breakdowns of what those would mean for our society, as well as what they would cost. Because the funding promises to lure us to the hustings may make good sound bites – but do they make well thought out policies for our future?
Niccolo Machiavellii is famed for coining the term "the ends justify the means" in his 16th century treatise The Prince. When it comes to those who covet power and control over our country, its message that results matter more than playing by the rules is a cautionary tale for our times.
We can, and should expect and demand better of those seeking and holding public office.
So the next time you hear a candidate or political message that tries to focus on painting other parties with a brush full of smear, don't hit the like or share button. Instead, ask that person to explain their party's platform or policies in detail that would address the issues our country is facing into the future and how exactly they plan to make the every day lives of all Canadians better.