Everyone should have friends from across the political spectrum…

Here in Canada we’re days away from a federal election..
The Conservatives and the Liberals (the two major parties) are very close in the polls and it looks like we’re heading towards a minority government (where the party with most seats in parliament is outnumbered by the other parties combined).

I’m not going to discuss platforms or anything like that in this post.

Instead I’m going to talk about how those of us who are active in politically related forums and social media can get trapped in our own little fish bowls.
By that I mean that many of us are not exposed to a balance of opinions.

We get bombarded with memes and posts about how the other guy is an idiot and a danger to the country and they’ll ruin (or did ruin) the economy and blah blah, oh yeah VETERANS!!!!

I have friends who support “the other guy” and often post things that are attacks on “my guy”.
I usually just scroll past these because I don’t want to engage, out of a fear of things getting heated.

With people I don’t know personally I have a variety of tactics. This is the part where I’d love to tell you that I approach each negative comment I choose to address with kindness, wisdom and compassion.

Yeah, that doesn’t happen. I’ll admit that I gleefully point out flaws in their logic, post sources that debunk whatever “facts” they are peddling..

…and they do the same to me.

I was wondering how the hell people who I know are intelligent, rational adults could buy some of the obviously false rumours floating around about “my guy” when it hit me…they’re bombarded by information that supports their world view.

Ditto for those of us on the other side of the debate.

Its how social media works. They show you posts and stories that will keep you engaged.

Its how the Russians influenced the 2016 US Presidential Election.

So I guess what I’m saying is that when forming opinions in arenas as potentially divisive as politics, make a conscious decision to gather information from a broad spectrum of sources.

I’m going to google “Positive stories about ‘the other guy'”.

I’m convinced I won’t get anything….because my Facebook and Twitter feeds said so.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Dear Justin;

I hope you don’t mine me calling you Justin.  If you do, you can start your own blog and call me Mr. Rothbauer if you want.

This morning,  the day after the 42nd federal election I woke up and wondered if last night actually happened.

It did,  and I am so incredibly happy for Canada,  and for the world in general.

When Stephen Harper won his majority government I posted that I wept for my country.  I didn’t really,  it was a turn of phrase.

Last night I posted that I wept for my country again,  but these were real tears.  Tears of relief and joy.

As I typed “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau” I teared up a little again,  with good reason.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that the last 10 years have made it hard to identify myself as Canadian.

It became difficult to understand what being Canadian meant.

Until the Harper Government took power,  being Canadian meant so many things that were overwhelmingly positive.

So many adjectives to choose from, polite, hard working,  honest,  fair,  tolerant, friendly, caring…. all summed up with one word:  “Canadian”.

We’ve reached a point where being Canadian could easily be associated with fear,  intolerance,  uncaring.   Terrible adjectives that stained our national identity.

There are still many people in the world still us as being good,  but globally we’d lost our place in the world, and the Canadian flag became less and less welcome.

This morning so many of us woke to the very real hope that Canada will be restored.

Stephen Harper promised to unify Canada,  and in the end he failed on that promise.

You however managed to bring us together.   You,  Justin Trudeau,  gave us hope,  and we gave you the reins.

When you won the leadership of the Liberal party,  I joined.

My faith in you never wavered.   Even when you supported bill C-51,  I had faith that you knew what you were doing.

When others were pointing to Mulcair as a better option,  because he was running a better campaign,  my faith never wavered.    I saw that you were playing the long game,  and you stayed on message,  and did what was right,  even if it meant a load of bad press.   That takes guts,  it shows tremendous character,  and is the sign of a truly great leader.

I first noticed you when you delivered the eulogy for your father.  I was struck by the charisma,  your words,  and its delivery.

I knew then that you would become something great.

I wasn’t wrong.  (I am usually right about things like that 97% of the time (15 times out of 20 with a 92% margin of error))

And now you have a majority government!

I just want to say this…

We placed our trust in you,  and see you as the way back to what being Canadian was 10 years ago.

We are so thankful for the hope you’ve brought back to Canadians.   A departure from fear and divisiveness.   Of being told of what you’ll do for us,  instead of how awful other people are.


If you let us down.   If you become like all the old school politicians who thought you weren’t ready,    we’ll show you the door just like we did Harper.

Because one little known thing about Canadians is that we have little tolerance for bullshit.  We’re polite about it though.



Politicians are humans too – so how far back is too far for social media gaffes?

We are the closing days of one of the most exciting, contentious, and perhaps revolutionary federal election campaigns in Canadian history.

While I could go on at length about the various issues (and still might),  there is something else I want to address.

Throughout the campaign there have been numerous news stories about candidates resigning because of “inappropriate” comments made in social media.  Mostly Twitter and Facebook.

Ala Buzreba,  a 21 year old Liberal candidate resigned over vitriolic twitter posts made when she was a teenager.

Seriously….if we were all held accountable for things we said and did as teenagers we’d all be unemployed!

Maria Manna, another Liberal candidate resigned over Facebook posts she made questioning the 9/11 investigation several years ago.

The CBC has conveniently compiled a list,  you can see it here.

The point of this blog is not to defend,  or debate things that were said, posted, or implied.

Rather I want to suggest a different way of looking at this.

When someone steps up to a leadership role,  how far back do we do in someone’s social media history do we go back before opinions expressed become irrelevant?

Naturally there are cases where is absolutely appropriate to distance your campaign from someone’s expressed views or activities.   I will resist the temptation to link a few example of those.

But when such opinions were expressed in the distant past,   shouldn’t we look to more recent opinions?

Honestly,  I would rather cast my vote for someone whose made a few mistakes in the past and has clearly learned from them.

No one is perfect, and any one who has a blemish-less social media history is hiding something or doesn’t use social media.

When we deny someone an opportunity to step up,  someone who had the courage and intestinal fortitude to throw their hat into the ring,  we must do so carefully.

The other often over looked consequence of bringing up ancient history is that any one thinking of stepping up will think twice because the internet never forgets.

We could be losing out on having some excellent future politicians out of fear of having some past skeleton exposed.

I know from my own past that if certain things I’d said, and believed were brought to light that it would be mortifying.

The internet, being what it is would completely ignore any recent opinions I’d voiced, but focus on vile things I’d said as a teenager.

But those comments do not reflect the man I am today.   The very fact that I once believed them caused me to take a serious look at how I viewed the world,  and it changed me…for the better.

I know you’re dying to know what that was, but I’m not going to tell you. Unless you tell me yours….and if you say you don’t have anything like that in your past…you’re either young, or lying.  (and I’m only joking I don’t want to know your dark secrets!)

When assessing someone’s character we should look at the person they are today,   and not in the past.

My own opinion as to how far back is that it depends on what the person believes today…..even if they posted something stupid yesterday.

After all one of the traits I look for in a leader is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes, and admit when they’ve screwed up. That takes guts,  character,  and its rare in politicians.