Following the ebb and flow of the Ontario election has once again reminded me of the extreme tactics typically used by the left to try to promote the election or policy outcome they favour. Of course all manner of promises and warnings are made by all parts of the political spectrum on a regular basis, and especially at election time. But the left does have a unique and odious tendency to get down and dirty with their commentary, resorting to personal attacks and threats as means of supposedly advancing their position.
In my many decades as an advocate for the small- and medium-sized business community in Canada as President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), I was frequently embroiled in heated public policy battles with governments, financial institutions, large corporations, other business organizations and left-leaning groups such as unions. The stakes and emotions were often very high during these disputes, and it wasn’t unusual for tempers to flare in the process. CFIB often prevailed in these fights, and despite the fact that whomever we were opposing stood to lose significant amounts of money, took a hit to their political fortunes or just didn’t much like losing, virtually all of our opponents were still decent and respectful though they did not achieve what they wanted.
A good example of such a high-stakes battle was CFIB’s all-out fight against the merger of four major Canadian banks back in 1998. If the mergers had been permitted to go through, I have no doubt that many senior bankers stood to personally gain significant amounts of money, not to mention that share prices would have soared. Of course the mergers were not permitted by the Liberal government of the day in Ottawa, and CFIB was credited with being one of the major drivers of that decision. Yet despite that outcome and the extreme disappointment of many in the banking sector, I continued to have respectful and civil relationships with senior bankers.
The exception to this situation was always when we were fighting unions or other groups on the left of the political spectrum. When embroiled in these types of disputes, I sadly became accustomed to receiving death threats, having my family threatened and being on the receiving end of all kinds of ridiculous personal insults. I also found it pretty ironic that as a female heading up a major national business organization, many of the barbs tossed my way by unions and the left tended to be very sexist, when the left supposedly prides themselves on their egalitarian bona-fides.
During the course of this Ontario election, I have once again seen this tendency of unions and the left to engage in complete dishonesty and hurl personal insults and threats to any organizations, media outlets, politicians and individuals that dares to disagree with them. There have been a number of comments during the election by party leaders and others along the lines of “When they go low, we go high” or similar. When it comes to the unions or other leftist groups, they clearly have no qualms about reducing themselves to the lowest of the low.
When anyone feels it necessary to move beyond a reasonable discussion of the merits of any issue, and lowers themselves to attacking their opponent with personal threats and insults, it implies they really don’t have much faith in the facts of their position in the first place. I remember years ago my grandmother telling me that if someone I was debating had to resort to attacking me personally, that meant that I had won the argument. My old granny was one very smart lady.
Catherine Swift is currently President and CEO of Working Canadians (www.workingcanadians.ca. Prior to that, Catherine Swift had been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business since September 1987, initially as Chief Economist. She became Chair in June 1999 after being named Chief Executive Officer in July 1997 and President in May of 1995. Her various responsibilities included coordinating policy issues at federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, representing CFIB with politicians, government, business, media and other groups.
Ms. Swift has worked with the federal government in Ottawa holding several positions with the Departments of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Industry and Communications. Her areas of specialization included corporate and industrial analysis and international trade. Catherine Swift has a MA in Economics.
She has published numerous articles in journals, magazines and other media on such small business issues as free trade, finance, entrepreneurship and women small business owners. Ms. Swift is a Past President of the Empire Club of Canada, a former Director of the C.D. Howe Institute and past President of the International Small Business Congress. She was cited in 2003 and again in 2012 as one of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network.