Keep a healthy, respectful demeanor during electoral races

Lisa Goudy
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Respect is important during electoral debates and an admirable trait in leaders.

Looking to our neighbours in the States, it’s easy to see election tension heating up.

There was a lot of talk surrounding the latest face-off between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during their heated second debate earlier this week. While polls indicate Romney won their first match, polls indicated Obama won that match. The two are set to face off again soon and it’s definitely a heated, accusatory race.

A similar, although far less heated, debate is taking place in Moose Jaw between our two electoral candidates, Deb Higgins and Fraser Tolmie. With our election less than a week away, tensions seem to be rising in the Friendly City.

I should note here that it is in no way a means to compare our municipal to the presidential election in the States. However, the heated American debate and a few slightly heated discussions in the Friendly City did occur in the same week.

I think debate is healthy and necessary in a functioning democracy, but I also think there are ways to have debate while still having respect for the others and that is important too.

I want our leader to have respect and engage in healthy debate and fortunately, that type of debate has been happening between the two candidates.

For example, earlier this week, a discussion arose between Higgins and Tolmie regarding the closure of the Valley View Centre by 2016. Both candidates have mentioned going to the provincial government to get answers and be involved. Tolmie was quoted as stating that he didn’t want the situation to be ignored and that he has a “vested interest in Moose Jaw.”

Higgins countered that by stating yes, the situation needs attention and that she was pleased he said something about the centre “eight months after the fact.” It’s clear they’re taking a few swings at each other in the days leading up to the election on Wednesday.

Of course it’s not nearly as heated as the discussion in the States, but that’s an unfair comparison. During the latest debate, one of the tensest moments was around the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012 that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Obama said the day after the attack he “told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.”

Romney stated Obama took “14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” Obama responded by saying, “Get the transcript.” Even the debate moderator, CNN’s Candy Crawley - a veteran U.S political correspondent, broke the debate rules and told Romney that “He did in fact, sir … He did call it an act of terror.”

It’s good to see discussion in the States about their two presidential candidates, one of whom will lead the country for the next four years. But I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to totally tear each other down in order to garner support. I understand why it’s used and I know it’s unrealistic to expect that to ever go away.

In my opinion, maintaining a focus of respect is something admirable, something that, in my opinion, defines what a good leader should be.

I encourage people to get involved in the days leading up to the election. Of course it’s not going to be like the States with the Twitter hashtag #bindersfullofwomen becoming quickly one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter.

For those who don’t already know, this is referring to Romney’s comment where he was speaking to draw attention to the number of women he hired in his cabinet as Governor of Massachusetts. He said, “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.’”

Social media is a great tool to get involved in elections. I think people should get involved, but also remember that respect is not just needed for our leaders and our candidates. It’s also needed online and in person from the people.

So get involved, educate yourself before casting your vote, ask any questions you have to candidates and stay respectful online and in person. Let’s keep a healthy discussion going.

Organizations: Valley View Centre

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Friendly, U.S. Libya Massachusetts

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