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globe editorial

Of all the interactions ever to occur between a voter and a campaigning politician, the one last week between BC Liberal Party Leader Christy Clark and a woman in a North Vancouver market has got to be among the most anodyne.

Except, of course, that this one was caught on camera and went viral on Twitter, where it is being used against Ms. Clark.

We're not buying it. Anyone who wants to can see the incident online and judge for themselves. But what we saw was this:

Ms. Clark is walking through the market and greeting voters. A woman introduces herself and gets a warm greeting in return, complete with a friendly handshake.

Related: No apology from Clark as BC Liberals throw in the #IamLinda towel

Then the woman says, "I would never vote for you because of what…" Ms. Clark cuts her off with a smile. "You don't have to. That's why we live in a democracy," she says, and walks on.

And that was that. Except for the Twitter outrage, and the embarrassing #IamLinda hashtag that went with it.

The voter in question, Linda Higgins, is an innocent party in all of this. There's no evidence she was looking to make news, or that she was an NDP plant. She deserves no condemnation.

But neither did Ms. Clark do anything wrong. In fact, in the hurly-burly of a closely fought election campaign, she handled it well. Voters love to tell politicians they are not going to vote for them; it's a fact of life for campaigners. As long as a politician is respectful, he or she can move on without having to listen to every prepared lecture about their failings.

Voters who start a conversation with "I would never vote for you" shouldn't be shocked when the conversation is brief. The assumption in the #IamLinda hashtag is that Linda Higgins is a victim. But of what? Of not being an exception to the facts of life?

If there is a larger sense among some B.C. voters that the Liberal Party has grown arrogant after so many years in power, that's fair. But the fact that a garden-variety exchange between a voter and a politician has become a distracting political incident on Twitter speaks more about a social medium that feeds on easy outrage than it does about the real issues in this election.

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