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EDITORIAL: Negativity hits us right where it counts

As much as we say we don’t like negative campaigning, the combatants know the fear and anger it stirs up can be good for business.
The provincial election will be held May 29.

There are a number of reasons why there’s been so much negativity in our current provincial election campaign — it's politics, it’s a tight race and, most importantly, it works. 

Although many voters look forward to May 29 for no other reason than it’s when all the mudslinging will mercifully come to an end, it’s hard to blame parties for taking such an approach given provacative, sound bite-friendly clips are far more likely to have an impact than even the weightiest policy announcement. 

You might not be conversant with the intricacies of the United Conservatives’ platform to address cost of living pressures, but you’re undoubtedly familiar with their refrain that Rachel Notley’s NDP will make life more expensive for Albertans. 

Conversely, the New Democrats haven’t been shy about sharing some of Danielle Smith’s controversial comments from the recent past in an effort to paint the UCP leader as someone who isn’t fit, or can’t be trusted, to lead this province. 

Parties are playing to our emotional side because that kind of messaging has a better chance of sticking in our brains all the way to the ballot box. It’s why the NDP dredged up a two-year-old comment Smith made on a podcast that compared Albertans who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 to supporters of Adolf Hitler and why the UCP has dubbed Notley as 'Notleyocchio' for lying to the public. 

This approach has even made it down to the local level as three UCP hopefuls gathered in a field east of Okotoks last Friday to, in part, call out Kevin van Tighem, the NDP candidate in Livingstone-Macleod, for disparaging comments he made about the oil and gas industry. 

With 12 days to go until the election, it’s a safe bet that we’re in store for more negative campaigning because as much as we say we don’t like it, the combatants know the fear and anger it stirs up can be good for business.

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