It’s not easy to stay cool during political debates, especially if you really care. But we have to take a stand against politicians who insult each other, and us, instead of debating policy.

As a Green Party supporter, and a country girl, I am genuinely frightened of public policy that fails to protect the ecosystem and the family farm. I am worried that the countryside will continue to empty, and that our food supply will be left in the hands of corporations. I am convinced that they will grow increasingly low quality food, destroy our air, soil, water and biodiversity, and walk away leaving us in a mess. We’ve already seen how business behaves with orphan wells.

I feel so strongly about these issues that it’s tough to keep cool. But we should be debating issues, not attacking people. Insulting politicians is an insult to democracy itself. During the last election, on the occasions that I represented the Green Party at public forums in Battle River – Crowfoot, people often commented how much they appreciated the dignity and courtesy that all the candidates demonstrated. We argued passionately, but we respected each other. I was proud to take part in the democratic process, and I respect voters’ choice.

In the last few weeks, we’ve heard politicians refer to people as “sewer rats”, and to Alberta’s legitimately-elected Premier as “as a vicious, poisonous, toxic cocktail of mediocrity (and) incompetence…(who) requires an extreme amount of adult supervision.” There are no ideas or issues in these statements, so nothing was added to the public debate. At best, this nonsense is a distraction. At worst, insulting people is a cheap ploy to get support from people who are angry with the government of the day.

Politicians shouldn’t hurl stupid insults at each other, or us. Not only is it undignified, it reveals an alarming lack of self-control. Their job is to listen respectfully to everybody, think deeply and act prudently. If we want our democracy to work, we have to insist that candidates respect the importance of thoughtful public debate, and allow citizens to make up our own minds in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

Nora Abercrombie
CEO, Green Party of Canada for Battle River-Crowfoot