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When Did Politics Become a Marketing Scheme?

11/22/2013 05:13 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

It appears as if there is a brand of politicians that has forded the line from charisma to outright marketing. This kind is overdramatic, scandalous, ruthless, and will admit to have engaged in dishonest or illicit activities, perhaps for popularity. Canadians have succumbed to a Ford Nation, where political activism is belittled to the transaction of selling and buying entertaining political stories, much like a branded product. This is emblematic of an emerging trend in the Canadian political arena.

Even if you are not the kind to have political news websites bookmarked to the homepage of your Internet browser, nor the kind to have a pre-set alarm on your cell phone device weekdays at precisely 2:15 p.m. to remember to watch Question Period, nor even the kind to feel a rush of blood every time Harper gives a different variation of the senate scandal story, the odds are, that if you live in Canada, you have recently picked up a newspaper, seen a clip on TV, or navigated through some online article that has familiarized you with the fact that the mayor of our largest city shares his maiden name with a popular car brand.

Perhaps, you even took a second glance, and it may have caught your attention that said character is at the centre of controversy that all started with an alleged image-damaging video, that nobody but one person, other than the RCMP and those involved in the making and distribution of it, have seen. If this caused you any intrigue, you probably did more research and are now aware that this polemic person does not just hold the highest municipal office of a city that produces $9.4 billion in revenue but also has smoked crack cocaine, has drank to excess, has a brother named Doug, has a wife, is not likely to call himself a feminist, has made death threats, uses profanity, knocked over a city councillor, started a TV show named Ford Nation, and had the show cancelled, among other facts.

The reality is, however, that unless you are one of his former or new staff, family member, or close friend, the only Ford fact that has any effect to your daily life is his questionable adequacy to hold managerial powers over the city's budget, and even less so if you do not live in Toronto and it is not your taxpaying money at stake. But sadly, political apathy has developed to an extent that Canadians care very little about elected officials and their decisions unless one is caught on tape smoking crack.

Consequently, when Ford admitted to having smoked crack cocaine in one of his "drunken stupors," his approval ratings went up by 5 percentage points. Essentially, these polls suggest that more people believe he is suited for the position of mayor after the fact that he committed a crime and also lied about it multiple times. Similarly, when Justin Trudeau admitted to having smoked marijuana his approval ratings remained steady. Which makes one wonder, have Canadians become so distrustful of politicians that supporting the most notorious is an option purely for its own entertainment?

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