With refreshing honesty, Andrew Coyne, writing in the National Post, says the Party Leaders on the campaign trail fill their days with "meaningless tripe".

He repeats Andrea Horwath’s call for five debates involving the Party Leaders, focussing on policy. The Globe and Mail, too, says Ontarians need the debates.

At the last election, fewer than half of the electorate voted. Most people couldn’t be bothered to lever themselves out of their armchairs to cast a ballot. Why?

All the political parties, to a greater or lesser extent, blur the edges between their policies and their opponents. They do not offer a clear choice. And they do not explain their policies in depth and at length. Everything is reduced to a sound bite that, more often than not, vanishes into the ether seconds after it is uttered.

At least this time the NDP, famously “policy-lite” under Horwath, is not going to get a free ride.  In the long run that will be good for the NDP and good for our politics.

Many people are deeply alienated, believing their vote makes no difference whatsoever. Indeed, some go further and say the very act of voting encourages the politicians and props up a system that is totally bankrupt. Have a look at this 2013 conversation between the UK comedian and actor, Russell Brand, and Jeremy Paxman, the anchor of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight.

For its part, the CBC ramps up stage-managed events that are hardly worth reporting into an “election analysis of the day’s events on the campaign trail”.  We learn from Tim Hudak that if people want “personality” they should vote for Wynne or Horwath. If they want policy, he is (so to speak) your man.

Which clown in his entourage advised him to say that?

Policies are increasingly set by the Party Leaders who are in turn beguiled by pollsters and campaign professionals. The electorate is diced, cubed and then salami sliced with the message tailored for the demographic that counts. The result? The real election is fought in a handful of swing ridings. And the rest of us end up as onlookers.

The reality is that political parties everywhere are on life support. These days, it almost seems eccentric to belong to one. No wonder people walk away from it all.

Televised Leaders’ debates matter. And candidates’ debates in the other 104 ridings are important too.

They may - just - shake us out of our torpor.

34 days to go.


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