Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of May 4, 2009)


Suffering campaign fatigue


  By John Martin

During a recent interview with a Vancouver media outlet I was asked to identify the issues in the current B.C. election campaign. My initial reaction was to ask in turn, "What campaign?" Instead, I simply conceded I am not tuned into the election whatsoever and have no idea.

Turns out I'm not the only one. I cannot recall there being less interest in any campaign in 25 years. Historically, people in my social and professional circles have always weighed in on political campaigns. I doubt though that I've heard more than one or two comments regarding the current one.

With three recent federal campaigns in a little more than three years, another one likely on the way, and a US presidential campaign that lasted about two and a half years, we are truly in the midst of campaign fatigue. Throw in the economic concerns and a Canucks team that, miraculously, hasn't already been bounced out of the playoffs, and this election campaign has all the sizzle of a plate of processed cold cuts.

For me, the ultimate proof that people aren't interested in this campaign came when Carole James promised, if elected, to raise the price of beer and barely anyone took notice. In a normal campaign in normal times, let alone these economic troubling times, such a feat of electoral stupidity would have decided the outcome then and there. If a pledge to add three bucks to a six-pack doesn't get people riled, it's a safe bet nothing will. But there is so little interest in this campaign that even a colossal blunder of this magnitude barely caused a ripple.

As noted, there have been far too many elections recently. But another part of it might have to do with the parties imitating each other to the point that the script is too messy to even try to follow. It's as though both major parties have "jumped the shark" and don't even take time to get into character anymore.

In the past four years the NDP has actually seized the "tough on crime" file and been persistent advocates for criminal justice reform, hiring more cops, and getting tough with gangs. The Liberals have looked absolutely shell-shocked on this issue and have lost a time trusted weapon with which to hammer their traditional "bleeding heart, hug-a-thug" opponents.

If that wasn't enough, the NDP is simultaneously ripping into the Liberals for an environmental policy that has the green brigade throughout North America literally swooning with praise. You actually have the unprecedented scenario where the NDP is promising to axe the carbon tax and inviting the wrath of their traditional allies in the environmental movement.

At the end of the day a person can be forgiven for having trouble scoring this one and opting to flip the channel.

After all, the very thought of the NDP wanting to eliminate a tax is enough to drive a guy to drink, no matter how much they raise the price of beer.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at


BC general election 2009

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009