This past weekend, Wayne Gretzky – in many people’s minds the Greatest Hockey Player Who Ever Lived – endorsed Stephen Harper for Prime Minister of Canada. (In Canada, we’re currently in the midst of our longest election campaign in 80 or 90 years…) This was weird for a few reasons:
- Gretzky is a former hockey player, coach and executive and, therefore, not exactly an expert on Canadian politics, or politics of any kind;
- Gretzky hasn’t lived in Canada for close to 30 years;
- Gretzky recently lost his right to vote as a non-resident Canadian citizen in this election, because it was taken away by – cough – Stephen Harper;
- Gretzky is evidently unaware of what is currently happening in Canada (which could be the subject of an entirely different post).
My dad and I were ranting about this to each other when he had a rather brilliant idea: instead of just publicizing the endorsement, members of the media such quiz the public figure endorsing a candidate as part of publicizing the endorsement. To wit: “Mr. or Mrs. Public Figure: We are going to publicize your endorsement. Please answer the following three questions. They will be published verbatim. If you refuse to answer these questions, we will publish that you do not appear to have anything to say.” Or something to that effect. What would the questions be?
- [For a sitting candidate] “Please tell us what action or piece of legislation the candidate has taken or enacted within the last parliament that you are most proud of. Cite specific legislation.”
- [For a new candidate] “Please tell us what in the candidate’s past makes you think the candidate will make a good Prime Minister/Cabinet Minister/MP. Cite at least one specific job and preferably at least one action during that job.”
- “Please tell us what action or piece of legislation the candidate has taken or enacted within the last parliament that you are least proud of. Cite specific legislation.”
- “Please tell us why you think the candidate’s opponents [pick 2] are less well suited to the job. Cite specifics.”
These are just examples.
I understand that this is a pipe dream, as access is everything and most media would never jeopardize their access with behaviour like this. But we, as the public, should be demanding something like this. Because, frankly, Wayne Gretzky doesn’t know shit about this election and shouldn’t be endorsing anyone. However, a chunk of the Canadian public are going to listen to him because, well, people are stupid and people are lazy and would rather say “Well, if Gretzky’s voting for him…” than “I am voting Conservative because X.” [Note: Gretzky cannot vote for Harper because Harper took Gretzky’s right to vote away, but this is semantics for the general public.]
As an aside: aren’t you just sick and tired of this election already? When will it ever end? Ugh.