Off the Record column
By MICHAEL LAYCOCK
Whistler Question (Whistler, B.C.)
May 27, 1996

So here we are on the eve of a provincial election.

It’s the first campaign I’ve covered, so it was all new to me.

I hope I’ve been able to bring you, the reader, fair and thorough coverage and allowed you to hear what each candidate has had to say.

Doing so was made difficult by a number of factors, including the tidal wave of press releases with which the two front-running parties have deluged the Question in the past month.

When the campaign started, I opened a file folder jokingly labelled Election Propaganda.

Some joke.

The file is now close to two inches thick, depending on whether I sit on the pile or not, and it’s filled with more slagging and counter-slagging between the Liberals and NDP than I like to think about.

The final score in number of press releases sent, as of late Friday, was Liberals (39), NDP (33), Reform (2), other (17).

My favorite, I would have to say, is “Drained lake further evidence of Glen Clark incompetence.”

After a week or two I became lost in the continuous crossfire of plans, numbers, allegations and general venom.

But I think I learned a few things in the process, and I’d like to share them with you:

• Elections bring out the worst in people. I can’t recall the last time I saw such a disgusting display of gouging, mudslinging and bullshitting. I feel like I need to take a week-long shower and scrub myself with steel wool and Comet.

• Candidates seem to have been coached by their backroom crew to spout the party line instead of actively addressing local issues. Ask a pointed question and you can literally see the candidate firing off on a tangent and leading you to the party platform. Whatever happened to representing constituents? Why do I have the feeling that once they get into office, they’ll do whatever they please?

• The average observer would have to have a team of researchers and a degree in macroeconomics to sift through all the promises, plans and critiques the parties have dropped in our laps. Heaven help the voter.

• Money talks. Sadly, regardless of substance or ethics, he/she who has the most money is seen and heard the most and becomes most firmly ingrained in voters’ minds.

Who will I vote for?

Good question.

The Liberals’ Ted Nebbeling? Hmm… corporate tax cuts, massive cuts to civil service, questionable funding for education and health. Not.

The NDP’s Brenda Broughton? “Hard on issues, soft on people,” questionable debt-reduction plan, a rosy budget just before an election. Next, please.

Reform’s Jim Mercier? Seems level-headed, but those party undertones of religious and racial extremism…nope.

Everyone else is either yogic flying or has an even less well-thought-out plan than the first two.

The bottom line? I’m thoroughly confused and depressed because I don’t see any candidates or parties I believe and am comfortable with.

It’s a feeling that is nurturing my urge to don an orange robe, ditch my shoes and wander the Earth like Kane from Kung Fu.

But I guess I’ll come to a decision sometime tonight.

Good luck to you in coming to your choice, and be sure to get out and vote.