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Group asks election candidates to sign 'civility' pledge

LIBERAL GERARD KENNEDY/PARKDALE-HIGH PARK Mr. Kennedy knew he’d be in for a tight race with NDP candidate Peggy Nash. The pair faced off in the 2008 campaign, with Mr. Kennedy winning by less than 3,500 votes. In the end, Mr. Kennedy’s defeat in the rematch with Ms. Nash is symbolic of the Liberals’ eroded support in Toronto and elsewhere.

Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Imagine a more civil style of election campaign - one that focused on issues rather than insults and vision rather than vitriol.

A group of Canadians, which calls itself Civil Elections, wants candidates for federal office to commit to making themselves available for all public all-candidates debates, to refusing to make personal attacks on their opponents, and to advocating for a respectful and substantive exchange of ideas.

They are lofty goals, and perhaps unrealistic given that by mid-afternoon Saturday just one candidate had signed a commitment. Liberal Gerrard Kennedy the incumbent in High Parkdale-High Park in Toronto, was the lone signator.

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But Chris Holcroft, a spokesman for the group, said he is optimistic there will more joining Mr. Kennedy in the near future. The group's website can be found here. The members of Civil Elections are reaching out to candidates through party offices, individual e-mails and calls, and asking them to sign the pledge. And they hope other Canadians will join the effort.

Mr. Holcroft said, in the interest of full disclosure, he personally has been a supporter of the Liberals. But the group is non-partisan and has no affiliation with any political party, he said.

"I am sincerely most interested in creating a climate of greater civility in our politics," said Mr. Holcroft. "The challenges our country and our world face are too important to not be having serious, respectful discussions (and) that includes as many Canadians and viewpoints as possible"

The movement was inspired, said Mr. Holcroft, by the general malaise of our politics.

"With more and more Canadians tuning out, serious policy discussions are being left to hyper partisans and the debate is angrier and less substantive," he said. "We can do better."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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