Posts Tagged ‘campaigns’

The Funny Farm runs the election.

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

It is that time of year. Mid-summer is no time for serious. Even Elections Canada has joined the fun. In a television interview yesterday, an Elections Canada spokes person said with a straight face that she did not know what is being told to environmentalists about the rules of arguing with politicians who are climate change deniers.

It was the same laugh as I had when as president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, a friend, who happened to be a member of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet, told me I would have to register as a lobbyist before asking him to increase funding for medical research. All he got for that advice was a raising of my middle finger.

It seemed the media were having some fun yesterday interpreting the election rules that no judge would allow to waste the time of the court. While technically you could say that the MS Society was spending more than the limit for media space during the period of the election, that media time and space was all donated to the society by the print and broadcast media companies.

The entire discussion is inane but a friend called me yesterday to discuss the idea of the flat earth society running candidates in the election. He thought it would be funny if we would all have to stop showing the earth as round during the election.

But this is closer to the truth than you think. As much as you might think Maxime Bernier has scrambled a few marbles, he has a right to his disbelief in climate change. He seems to think this is all just some form of hysteria.

But what is even funnier. I am thinking we all should be complaining to Elections Canada about these stickers that Ontario taxpayers are paying to put on gas pumps in the province during the election period. How much did those political advertisements cost?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Mad Dogs, Englishmen and Candidates.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

That knock on your door on this hot July day is more likely to be a candidate for the coming election. This time is gold for candidates, they can pick and choose strategic areas of the riding, they can test various approaches for the campaign to come and, most important, they have time to listen to voters.

As a campaign manager, I would often go with the candidate to watch how he or she handled questions, drew out the voter and watch the voter’s reaction to the candidate. It is also important to know when to shut down the conversation with the voter when it had gone far enough. People who want to trap the candidate too long in conversation are often not on your side.

The last time I spent a summer working with a candidate was in a municipal campaign and that summer was as hot as this one. Rather than risk our candidate to heat stroke on the hottest days, I would choose condominiums for him to canvas on the days were the temperature was over 30°C. Condominiums most frequently air condition the halls and a 15-storey building offers a comfortable afternoon of listening to voters.

One of the reasons that the campaign chair asked me to handle the ground game in that campaign was because he knew of my experience over the years in training canvassers. I always enjoyed that part of the job and I knew that getting good canvassers in this town was a tough job. I found I was training a few liberals but my best students were not liberals. In the subsequent federal election, I had the disquieting experience of conservative campaign people calling me to thank me for training them.

One of my satisfactions from that campaign was collecting a bet from the campaign manager. I collected it very publicly in front of the entire campaign team at the victory dinner. That ten bucks showed that the guy on the ground knows far more about a campaign than pollsters.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Political polls and other summer games.

Friday, July 19th, 2019

It is like playing Snakes and Ladders without the dice. It is phoning people at random and hoping they might tell you the truth. It is annoying people with recorded telephone calls and thinking they might be civil in return. It all adds up to bad guesses in a mug’s game.

But what else has the media to report? In the dog days of summer, they are just playing with numbers. The parties have the campaign buses ready for the shakedown cruises. They are testing slogans and trying to paper over the warts on their campaigns.

Mind you, it is safe to report that the conservatives and liberals are in the lead. Nobody will argue that at this stage. No serious gaffs have been noted. The NDP and greens are covering the middle ground. All it means, so far, is that a lot of people, sincere about the environment, will be disappointed.  The Bloc and Bernier’s people party are fighting over the dregs of votes in Quebec. All in all, ho-hum and boring.

Come back during the first week in October and there will be some movement to report. Nobody can tell you what that movement will be. It might not even be statistically viable. The only polls you can really trust are the exit polls on election day.

But the game continues. Everyone wants to play at it. And I love the way some people are hedging their bets. It is so bad that the CBC is hiring right-wing writers from Post Media to assure the world of their neutrality. People wonder why Nanos and Mainstreet always show the liberals contending. Do they favour the libs?

Following the pollsters is like playing poker in a rigged game. It hardly pays. Yet, if it is the only game in town, you want to be where the action is.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

It’s going to be a smack-down election.

Monday, June 24th, 2019

The anticipated federal election in October looks like one that nobody can win. All the political parties are going into the election with heavy baggage.  Nobody has the confidence of the nation. It could be the most bitter, hardest fought election in Canada’s history. There is too much at stake for voters to not vote. There is too much to lose in voting for any one party. We need to vote for candidates who will work to reform their political parties.

We cannot have political parties tearing apart our nation.

There was a rare Canadian phenomenon recently, as we saw millions in Toronto come out to celebrate. They clogged the parade route in boisterous cheering. City hall and area were hopelessly crowded, beyond any imagined capacity—a sea of happy celebrants. They gave rapturous cheers for the players and coaches and their mayor. They gave proper applause for the participation of the prime minister. They gave raspberries and one-finger salutes to their premier. That told us more than any opinion poll.

The conservative party in Canada has lost all credibility as it denies the dangers of the detritus cast aside so casually in a scarred and warming world. The liberals lost their credibility the other day when they said they would complete the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline. They want countries that do not care about pollution and global warming to process the horrific output of Canada’s tar sands.

At the same time, the new democrats are offering everything if Canadians will give them a chance to govern. And the Green party brings its one-note band to the event.

The facts are that not one of these parties is fit to govern. Each is found wanting. The conservatives are ideologues, they want small government, tax cuts for the rich and privileged and they paint impossible scenarios of curing climate concerns. At the same time, Canada’s liberal prime minister tells us Canada is a country of law but tries to impose political solutions when our largest engineering firm breaks the law. His cabinet brags of their concern for the environment while approving a pipeline of pollution across British Columbia.

And there are our also-ran parties. They want to save our environment but who would run our country?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

A year late and a candidate short.

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Welcome to the fray, Jeremy Broadhurst. As the just appointed campaign chair for the liberals this year, you have your work cut out for you. I would not say the job is impossible but Easter is over and I am sure God restricts us to only one resurrection per year. Getting Justin Trudeau’s liberals campaign for re-election back to life will be a tough chore.

But you have to admit that any guy who could have us believing that foreign minister Cynthia Freeland is at least a foot taller than actual, has to be a miracle worker in anyone’s book. As the minister’s chief of staff, Broadhurst backed her up during some very tough negotiations in Washington. She might not have come off a miracle-worker but surviving the melee counts for something.

And it is too bad Broadhurst is probably having to work on the if-come. Fund-raising for the liberals has been tanking and there might not be much on the dinner table for a while.

But when you realize that Broadhurst took on the tough jobs in the last federal election, while back-stopping the group of dilettantes around school teacher Justin Trudeau, you are inclined to give him a look. Justin might have been raised in a quasi-political household but his father learned to let the politicos do their jobs.

Broadhurst has nowhere near the seasoning of the late Senator Keith Davey. Nor does he have the training for the job that Keith gave to Senator David Smith.

A funny footnote on David Smith was that he had never won an election as a candidate without my help. He called me when the writ was dropped for the 1993 election and asked me to spend the election commuting to Barrie from Toronto to run the liberal campaign in what was then York-Simcoe riding. I do not recall what I told him. It was probably something terse. It amused me later that York-Simcoe was the only riding the liberals lost in Ontario. David complained to me that Jean Chrétien kept telling, anyone who would listen, that it was David’s fault the liberals lost York-Simcoe.

But the point of this is that Broadhurst is taking on this campaign about a year too late. He is starting from the bottom of a hole that Justin Trudeau dug with the help of Gerald Butts and company.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Chuckles checks conservative campaigns.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

You would expect that one of these days, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer will have to take the training wheels off his federal election campaign. He was out on the hustings with Jason Kenney in Alberta last week and little new came from either conservative.

The signature complaint we have heard from Chuckles and his four most strident provincial conservative leaders—Ford in Ontario, Pallister in Manitoba, Moe in Saskatchewan and Kenney in Alberta—is that federal carbon taxes are bad. And the conservatives always forget to mention that the liberals plan to return this money on Canadians’ income tax each year.

In Alberta, Kenney links the name ‘Trudeau’ with the National Energy Program of almost 40 years ago. He also talks about the Notley-Trudeau team as the one-two punch of failed government in conservative eyes. All this does is create an even stronger conclusion that these provincial and federal conservatives are global-warming deniers and their campaigns are based on ignorance.

As the world’s ice caps and glaziers melt and oceans rise, deniers have less land to stand on. And the growing violence of the weather patterns is just another indication of the need to cut back on spewing of carbon into the atmosphere.

But what might be positive in the conservative platform for this October is not clear at all. Chuckles says he is going to balance the books for the federal government within two years of being elected. That would be an amazing and probably very drastic promise to keep.

The most unusual promise from Chuckles is to give tax credits to people who send their children to private schools. Why anyone who can afford to send their children to private schools needs a tax credit for it is a question that needs to be asked?

It is important to know that Chuckles has always been a social conservative and yet he denies that he would support their more radical positions such as on abortion or LGBT issues. Which just means he is a person who does not stand up for his convictions. Some prime minister he would make!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Team Trudeau tells the tale.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

An invitation came from the liberal party the other day to sign up for Team Trudeau Campaign College. It is just $25 for the day and you have your choice of attending campaign management, official agent or a single stream covering the three areas of digital management, volunteer management and canvas management. I heartily recommend the three-part stream as better bang for the buck.

And teaching at these efforts can be a great experience in itself. I sometimes offered to talk about dirty tricks to get a bigger turnout to my classes. The time I told people that our text would be from Carl von Clausevitz’ On War, we had to get a larger hall. If you want people to remember, you have to make it memorable.

The only stipulation on these particular classes is that you have to be a registered liberal to even get an invitation. When running the ground game in a municipal campaign a few years back, I found I had the conflict of teaching local conservatives and NDPers as well liberals. In the 2015 federal campaign, the ground game for the conservative in the next riding was being run by one of my keener students. She actually phoned during the campaign to thank me for the training. Oh well, I liked the liberal she helped defeat, but he never listened to me anyway.

But memories in politics are short. I would not be of much help as a trainer today. Yet I miss it. I might be critical. Small things can annoy me.  For example, they say ‘Team Trudeau’ in the logo and do not mention ‘Liberal.’ What is funnier is the stylized pencil the artist has drawn under the name ‘Trudeau.’ The pencil is designed to represent voting. The only problem is that a pencil such as that would never be used in a polling place. It has an eraser on it—which might just turn out to be a metaphor for the coming election.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

“Some animals are more equal…”

Monday, September 24th, 2018

George Orwell’s Animal Farm told us more about humans than about animals and why some pigs are more equal than others. This subject came readily to mind the other day when reading about our liberal government’s attitude regarding protecting political party databases. Having worked with some of the earlier and cruder database efforts by the liberals, I find their attitude concerning.

Despite the recommendation of an all-party committee of the house of commons, the liberal government has refused to have any oversight or privacy rules applied to party databases. Their obduracy goes so far as to refuse to advise liberal adherents if their data has been hacked.

For myself, I would prefer that the liberal party’s present version of Liberalist knows less about me until the party’s system security takes a quantum leap forward.

The last time I had easy access to liberal party data, I had offered to do some back-up data entry of canvassing results. An ulterior motive was that it gave me entry to correct my own data. With the unrestricted use of automated calling to ostensively poll the voters, I had taken lying to pollsters to new levels. I always told automated systems that I was voting for a party or candidate at random.

The problem was that since the days when we kept the data about voters on ‘3 by 5’ cards, data collected by supposedly ‘independent’ pollsters was often the parties calling to find out how you would vote. Back when we actually talked to a human pollster, I had always engaged the caller in conversation and, usually, had determined who was behind the poll before answering anything. I could follow the effectiveness of this on voting day when all three major parties would call to remind me to vote.

It was even funnier when voting and seeing all three inside scrutineers check me off as a vote for their party.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Brown: No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown does not have a problem. He is the problem. His handlers are not sure how to present him to provincial voters. They are concerned that the more people they introduce him to, the fewer people like him. It is not supposed to work that way.

At first, they thought they could show him in a sympathetic light because of a speech problem as a child. They found that now people can listen to him, they are not interested. They showed him as a marathon runner just like Premier Kathleen Wynne. More people edged away from him.

It is not as if the poor schmuck is not trying. When people wanted him to be a Right to Life supporter, he was there. When they wanted him to support abortion, he was there for that. Whatever you want him to be, he is there for you. All he wants is your vote.

Those of us who have watched Patrick Brown here in Barrie since he was young have found him to be very flexible. We have never heard an original idea from him nor a reasonable reason to vote for him.

But now Brown is under the direction of his friend Walied Soliman, Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada Ltd. Soliman is the guy who looks after the problems for the international law firm. You can think of him as the guy who might have helped throw the Ontario Medical Association into a tizzy over the past year. Somebody must have shown the greedy specialists how to oust the more reasonable old guard.

But Patrick Brown could be Soliman’s biggest challenge. There is a large province to be won here. Since Patrick Brown stole the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives two years ago, he has been marking time. The Liberals have been ragging Brown unmercilessly as Opposition Leader but since he has no policy positions, he simply takes a position that he sees to his advantage. It might keep the media people in the legislature amused but it promises us a very nasty election next year.

The most recent attack ads on the Wynne Liberals are straight out of the Donald Trump songbook. It forecasts a disgusting campaign to come. When you launch an attack this early that says the Wynne Liberals are “corrupt” and “untrustworthy,” the road can only be downhill from there.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

NDP changing times, changing directions.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

The CCF—the party of Tommy Douglas—represented the working man, the farmer and the socially conscious in an era of rapid growth and acquisition after the Second World War. We had little time for CCF concerns or socialism in those exciting years but the party was respected as a political conscience. It was only when the Canadian Labour Congress was formed that the combination of the CCF and labour became a reality.

The problem many of us young left wingers had against the labour involvement was that we did not see labour as having a social conscience. We saw labour involvement as an “I’m alright Jack” attitude. We saw the use of labour’s muscle to benefit its members but not the average working stiff. It was union people who became the strong-arm organizers for the NDP in our urban centres and produced the highly effective canvassers that dominated elections in the less affluent areas until other parties learned how to do the same job.

Now more than 50 years after the CCF was dissolved into the successor New Democrats, the party has again reached a crossroads of conscience. The old socialists are gone. The experiment in governance such as the Bob Rae NDP Government in Ontario in the 1990s was a failure. The party is again seeking to re-invent itself. Its partnership with labour is crumbling. Individual unions are cutting their own deals with the Liberals. They are trying to exchange confrontation for reason and relationships. Labour has been leaving the Labour temple. There is no longer a “forever” in solidarity.

But the breakdown has left the New Democrat politicians floundering. The example of what happened to Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath last year was a cautionary tale. Her policy pronouncements sometimes fell on the political right of the Liberals. She confused her candidates and she confused the electorate.

And if you think it was a shame what happened to Andrea last year you should pay attention to the current troubles of federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Does he have policies? He has all kinds of policies. He might not explain them well. He might get confused on his statistics.

But does Thomas Mulcair have direction? No, his only purpose is power.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me