Vote for Me or the Terrorists Will get You: Fear and the 2015 Election

Let’s keep some perspective when we head to the polls

Charis Au / The Runner

One thing you may notice as the election season ramps up is that there’s been a lot of talk about terrorism. This isn’t particularly surprising, simply because terrorism (and fear of terrorism) has been something of a theme for more than a decade, and the rise of ISIS in the Middle East has only inflamed this. According to a recent Pew Research Centre survey, Canadians are so afraid of terrorism that the threat of ISIS tops climate change and economic instability on the list of our greatest concerns. Of course our politicians have noticed and so we have an election focused on who will best protect us from the boogeyman of the day. This is unfortunate because Canadians and our representatives are being distracted from issues that are far, far more likely to actually affect Canadians.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: ISIS needs to be wiped off the face of the earth. The so-called Islamic State is a gang of murderous thugs and rapists who have twisted faith into an excuse to cause untold misery in an effort to establish a fascist state that would cause even more misery. As far as direct threats to Canada go, however, ISIS is nowhere near the top of the list. ISIS will fall to the collective world powers long before they can seriously set their sights on Canada, and our law enforcement is well-equipped to deal with the occasional splinter group at home. The damage being done by ISIS is happening and will continue to happen far away from Canada. We should keep the perspective that any mission against ISIS needs to happen out of a sense of justice for the atrocities committed and not out of our own paranoia.

These facts have not stopped Canadian politicians from using our fear of ISIS as a political tool. The Conservative party’s main talking points took a sharp turn from their economic stewardship to Protecting Canadians as soon as the Canadian economy started trending downwards. The party has even gone so far as to use footage from ISIS propaganda videos in their ads to hammer home the fear. It’s not just the Conservatives, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party was so afraid of being labelled “weak against terrorism” that they opted to support the Tory’s extremely controversial anti-terror/privacy legislation C-51, despite expressing grave concerns about many provisions of the bill. Perhaps politicians in the West learned long ago that the most reliable way to win elections is to use people’s fear, rational or otherwise.

ISIS may be what our representatives have focused their minds on but it doesn’t need to be what decides our next government. When we head to the polls in October we should consider the issues that will actually affect the health of our home over the next few years. We should vote to maintain the ecological health of Canada. We should vote to keep our healthcare system efficient and affordable for all. We should vote for responsible drug policy. We should vote for affordable housing for Canadians and economic growth. We should vote to maintain our right to privacy in the digital age.

When all’s said and done, whichever party forms the government will have a responsibility to keep Canadians safe, but we shouldn’t vote for any party with only one issue in mind. The aforementioned Pew Research Centre survey found that 58 per cent of Canadians are “very concerned” about the threat of ISIS. It’s my hope that these Canadians will take a step back and consider what else they are “very concerned” about before making their decision.

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