Lies, hyperbole and alt truths.

What has happened to politics? And what has happened to the decency that it used to have? We all know that U.S. president Donald Trump creates his own truths but we also know that he is not really a politician. He does not know any better.

Justin Trudeau knows better. He was raised in politics. His father was quite good about telling the truth—and, sometimes, regretted it.

But that did not stop Justin Trudeau from using some hyperbole (exaggeration for emphasis) last week in the House of Commons. He claimed that his government has “helped more than a million Canadians find affordable housing.”

Defending the prime minister’s exaggeration, Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of social development, explained that while the actual results created housing for less than a million Canadians, some double counting was involved. He stated that this was necessary to provide “rhetorical advantage.”

What it sounds like, is Vaughan is saying that Justin Trudeau, who used to be a school teacher, could stand up in front of a class and tell the children that it is alright to lie, to make your point. This is a frequently used rationale for telling lies.

But reality is that there is no need to lie. There is a long journey from truth to the way station of hyperbole and on to the alt truth. We see the alt (alternative) truth everyday in television commercials such as the current heavy saturation of ads for what Alberta calls an “oil” pipeline. What they do not want you to know is that it is to carry the highly-polluting bitumen from the tar sands. They want the public to think of it as just crude oil.

In this election year, we are going to hear many more alt truths. My favourite Alt truth last year was Ontario conservative Doug Ford’s slogan, ‘For the People.’ We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what people Ford meant. I am waiting for this year’s campaign when Andrew Scheer’s conservatives try to convince us that we should not be concerned about the environment. I bet the Tories will have a slogan for that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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