Although it doesn’t seem that way, we are weeks into a federal election, and it seems as though Canadians are only now starting to pay attention.

That is unfortunate because the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Two years ago, Canadians were asked whether they approved of the direction the Liberals were taking the country, and the result was that they somewhat agreed by handing them a minority government. This time around, there is a global pandemic to consider.

In 2021, voters are being asked to decide on the future of this country, for at least the next couple of years; a crucial time when Canada is trying to recover from the economic and social tolls of COVID-19, and when the choice of party will dictate how this country will come back.

The Liberals and NDP favour a government-centred approach with public programs, services, funding, and resources targeted towards vulnerable people and marginalized communities that need the most help the fastest. The disagreement between the two seems to centre around how much to spend and on which priorities.

The Conservatives also want to get Canada moving again, but they want to employ ideas such as tax incentives and trimming spending to accomplish the task. They too believe government has a role to play, but in a more limited capacity.

It would be safe to say that the election has been dominated by the pandemic; how the government handled it, how the country is doing now, and how Canada will go forward. It would also be safe to assume that such questions would favour the government, which most Canadians believe did a good job dealing with COVID-19, but that is not the case.

For proof, look no further than this province. Most Nova Scotians agreed that the Liberals (mostly under former premier Stephen McNeil) did a good job managing the pandemic, but it certainly didn’t turn into political support in the election.

If public opinion polls are to be believed – and after they predicted a Liberal government in Nova Scotia that is getting harder to do – it appears the Official Opposition Conservatives are giving the Liberals a serious run for the money, with some polls showing the two parties neck and neck, while others have the Conservatives slightly ahead.

One major factor affecting the numbers is the fact that the NDP has increased its showing in most polls to approximately 20 per cent, and it seems to be at the expense of the Liberals.

It has also not helped the Liberals that their campaign has been dogged by protestors taking issue with vaccinations, masking regulations, and other public health restrictions, to such an extent that a campaign stop two weeks ago in Ontario was cancelled because of safety concerns.

But what has really cost the Liberals is that Canadians are hurting from the pandemic, and are distrustful of anyone in power right now. Along with whoever is in the premier’s chair and whichever party is in power provincially, a main target of public animosity during these trying times is the Prime Minister.

And while Justin Trudeau has been a target since he first rose to power, the vitriol that is being directed at him personally, his party, and his candidates has become over the top, and not at all what this country stands for.

In Central Nova, Liberal candidate Sean Fraser has had campaign signs destroyed, damaged and defaced, with one in particular adorned with a swastika.

Clearly things have gone too far. It’s one thing for people to have an issue with their government, it’s another thing when that opposition undermines public health and safety, hurls abusive and offensive language, and threatens violence.

There are many reasons to disagree with the current state and the future of this country, but that can be done with civility.

The tactics deployed by the protestors only serve to undermine their message, and perhaps generate sympathy for their opponents. Surely that isn’t what they are trying to accomplish.

What they are trying to do is be heard, but their message is being drowned out.

COVID-19 has put many Canadians on edge, and has raised many important questions that must be asked, especially during an election.

But if we’re going to get answers, some people are going to have to turn down the volume so we can all hear.