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Allow me to let you in on a couple of political secrets. I tell you these secrets as someone who has covered politics day in and day out for more than 20 years now at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

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Local all-candidates debates don’t matter, and “fully costed” platforms are a farce.

I know, this goes against what the parties tell you and what most of the media will tell you, but I speak the truth. Both of these campaign staples are part of the theater of the campaign, but they matter very little in reality.

Let’s start with the idea of ​​a “fully costed” platform.

Regardless of the party, this is their attempt to make you believe that the party in question is serious. They aren’t just making promises, they’ve examined the financial implications of their plans and ensured they’re being fiscally responsible.

When was the last time a government, any government in this country, was elected and followed the plan laid out in their “fully costed” platform? I won’t wait for an answer because I don’t have all day, but you won’t find one.

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This isn’t me picking on any particular party, this is a simple fact.

Parties come up with their election platforms well in advance of the election. They design campaign promises to convince you to vote for them and then if they win, they get into office and realize that things don’t quite add up. They need to spend more on priority A, spend less on priority B. And they might admit that the priority C they campaigned on was never really a priority, it was just a gimmick.

That, and things change.

Just of late, wars happen, pandemics happen, Monkeypox shows up, whatever that is.

So, the idea that a party will present their “fully costed” platform and then govern according to it, which is how they present their plans, simply isn’t true. Ford’s platform is his budget, and he’ll likely change it if he’s re-elected.

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The NDP, meanwhile, has changed its “fully costed” platform more than once and on Friday, party leader Andrea Horwath said that there might be more “surprises” before election day.

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As for debates, have you ever gone to a local all-candidates’ debate in person? If you have, did you go undecided or as a committed partisan, someone already wearing a team jersey with their mind made up?

I’ve covered these types of events in multiple provinces, multiple cities — I’ve even moderated all-candidate debates — and I can tell you this much. They don’t matter.

Most people who bother to show up to these events are already attached to one candidate or another. They come to cheer on their candidates and hound the opposing teams. They hog the microphone when it’s time for questions, they boo and hiss if the other side is making a good point.

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Maybe in 1972 these events made sense, but not now.

Back then, you might need to actually go out to a local town hall or gymnasium to hear the candidate speak, get a sense of them, find out more about the platform they’re running on. Now, we have this thing called the internet, complete with the Google and social media.

Within minutes, you can read about your local candidate or their party leader and what they stand for. It’s also easy to find out their “fully costed” platform online, listen to the local candidate speak in social media videos and get a fuller sense of your options as a voter than you could get from an all-candidates’ debate.

These relics of campaigning from a bygone era may have served a purpose at one point but their only use now is as a weapon for parties to attack each other. They serve very little democratic purpose.

My opinion may not be the popular one, but it’s the truth.

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