There's nothing like a good scandal to get people paying attention to politics.
Be it the Senate spending scandal that has been in the headlines for some time and — arguably — dominating them since Senator Mike Duffy's allegations last week; or the once-again-fresh one surrounding Rob Ford's alleged use of crack cocaine, Canadians are taking renewed interest in the systems that, ultimately, shape much of our lives.
This is a good thing. Political apathy has been too rampant for far too long in Canada.
According to Elections Canada, for the past five elections — dating back to Nov. 27, 2000 — voter turnout has never broken 65 per cent. The closest it has come to breaking that plateau was in the 2006 federal election, when turnout hit 64.7 per cent.
Further, Canada is only five years removed from its lowest voter turnout at 58.8 per cent.
Put simply, fewer than two thirds of Canadians have cast a ballot in any federal election held within the past 13 years.
There are many hypotheses addressing this shortfall, but few amount to anything beyond an excuse: Canadians — especially young ones — are disillusioned with the process; they don't understand it; they find it boring when held against the politics of other nations; or, they are sick of the "bully tactics" employed by political leaders.
The tune changes from the moment a scandal breaks out.
Just as it was simple to find people willing to wax on about Ford's mayoralty when allegations surfaced from Gawker and the Toronto Star that he had been recorded smoking crack cocaine, it is now ridiculously easy to find people calling for the abolition or reform of the House of Sober Second Thought.
And it isn't hard to sift out those who have been paying attention to politics beyond the immediate headlines and those who haven't.
Quick inquiries about the context of a particular scandal tend to achieve the goal.
As established, attentiveness toward and engagement in politics is not a bad thing, but the problems arise when Canadians begin to get involved in systems they don't understand.All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.