Voters say fact trumps rhetoric here, and we need more of the former

Don’t insult our intelligence

It doesn’t happen everywhere, but on Monday it happened here. Calgarians sent a signal to politicians everywhere, win or lose:

Don’t insult our intelligence.

The most infuriating thing about this election was the amount of misinformation and baseless accusations that flew around. Pollsters and candidates alike tossed numbers and statements into the political aether hoping that nobody would check the facts. When people did, they would resort to ad hominem attacks or just shout the misinformation louder.

I fundamentally believe that voters are smarter than people like Save Calgary give them credit for. If they are presented with facts and evidence, they will make their own decision. They are not, as this wonderful satirical video from my friend North suggests, idiots:

People like stories, yes. But when it comes to their city they like true stories.

Druh Farrell, who held on to her job in Ward 7 last night, drove it home for me in one of her pre-election Facebook posts:

This election is like nothing I have seen before in Calgary. Intimidation, outrageous accusations, social media attacks from fake and paid accounts, lawsuits, and secret political action committees. Where candidates are focused more on trash-talking their opponents than on their own ideas…

…The antidote to this type of negative and toxic campaigning? Start talking! About our neighbourhoods, our aspirations, and the kind of city we want for our children.

This is exactly what Spur was created for – having conversations about this city that are constructive, future-focused, and great for our children.

For me, the most positive thing to come out of this election has to have been The Sprawl, a self-described “pop-up journalism” project from the venerable Jeremy Klaszus. I was fortunate enough to play the role of an amateur correspondent there, both contributing an article on transit, and reporting “from the field” on election night.

Druh’s remarks and Jeremy’s success have inspired me. I continue to believe that the decisions we make to improve Calgary are paramount, and that we can and should all understand why they are being made.

It’s going to take a lot of work, but I hope that with some clever thinking, hard work, and little help from friends, Spur can become a place where people come not just for the facts and evidence, but for reasoning and context as well. I want to talk to all of you, hear all the ideas for a better Calgary, so that others can champion them with you.

Stay tuned.

Willem Klumpenhouwer

Willem is a PhD student in transportation planning and engineering at the University of Calgary, working on improving transit schedule design. In his spare time, Willem does programming projects and is a volunteer and improviser at the Loose Moose Theatre.

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