Election ads will find you, no matter what

Even our cat videos aren't safe from the long reach of political ads.

Many Canadians, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from Americans, like to find something we do better here—or at least think we do better—then proclaim how superior it is to the American system. A case in point is federal elections, where Canucks like to point to our fixed election campaign term: no less than 36 days, and usually not much more, between dropping the writ and the day voters decide who gets to redecorate 24 Sussex Drive.

To back this up, we point to the American election process, which seems to start within 48 hours of a new President being sworn in. The national conventions in the States, where the Republican and Democrat candidates will be elected, are a full year away, but as of the time of writing there are already 16 people declared as Republican nominees (17, if you consider whatever lives on Donald Trump’s head to be a sentient creature whispering instructions to him, which would actually explain a lot). These people are all over the airwaves, and it will only get worse over the next 12 months.

So unlike our own dear country, you may think; in which case you have obviously been living in a deprivation chamber for the last six months. The election hasn’t been called yet, but all three main political parties have been in election mode for some time. Ever since spring it’s been impossible to turn on the TV without seeing ads in which one party is attacking another, or the government is telling us how much of our own money they’re going to give back to us, and it’s beginning to seep onto radio and into print. If you have a Canadian IP address you can’t even watch a YouTube video without running the risk of being forced to sit through a message from one of the main parties. Things are getting out of hand when, months before the election, even cat videos are not beyond the reach of political advertising.

It’s probably frantic behind the scenes. The Prime Minister’s team is trying to teach him to smile in a way that seems authentic, rather than like an unfortunate facial tic. Justin Trudeau’s people are attempting to make him look more like a statesman and less like a high school Student Council president who’s wandered into the staff room by mistake. And in the NDP camp, focus groups are trying to determine the answer to “The Beard: Yes or No?” while Thomas Mulcair waits impatiently, razor in hand.

Expect the ads to get worse, not better, between now and whenever election day is. Be honest: that deprivation chamber is starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?

And so my five weeks as editor of The Journal are at an end. It’s been a delight as always; and now I am off to Vanderhoof to edit that town’s paper for two weeks. Wish me luck!

Barbara Roden

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