Friday, May 02, 2008

“People Need A Reason To Give"

The above comment, from an unnamed Liberal MP, in reference to poor fundraising totals. The Globe and Mail article also references the Conservatives techniques for raising money, in this quarter it was the CBC:
For their part, the Conservatives say a fundraising campaign in which they criticized the CBC drove a significant number of donations into their coffers.
“It was overwhelmingly our single biggest fundraising initiative,” said a Tory official.

Late last year, party campaign director Doug Finley sent out a letter asking for money after reports that a CBC reporter supplied questions to a Liberal MP during a committee hearing.

“It demonstrates a huge level of suspicion amongst grassroots Canadians about the Liberal Party and the CBC,” the official said.

One of the main reasons the Conservatives are successful, their fundraising is predicated on creating an enemy, and with that a sense of victimization. Forces working against the Conservatives, the party needs money to fight the “foe”. It’s all bunk of course, the CBC is completely mainstream, if there is a perception that Conservatives get a raw deal on that network, it probably stems from the fact that their narrow perspective isn’t representative of Canada as a whole. As I’ve argued before, pretty nonsensical to claim an anti-Conservative bias on the CBC, when their signature political “At Issue” panel consists of a former Conservative employee, a former National Post senior writer and a francophone woman who hates the Liberals and Dion- if that doesn’t say left-wing conspiracy, I don’t know what does.

However, the objective truth is really irrelevant, when it comes to the Conservative fundraising, all that matters is projecting a sense of “wronged”, an urgent plea to counter the perceived threat. The CBC serves as an easy target, and I don’t doubt it was effective, given the venom directed at our public broadcaster from online Conservatives. There is a siege mentality within the Conservative ranks that lends itself to fundraising drives. Us vs them seems to be the central thesis, that weaves itself into every discussion. Money is a way to counter the perceived disadvantage.

The Liberals can’t motivate, using manufactured paranoia to solicite money. The Liberals must use issues, and the trick now- how to demand money to fight, when the perception is it doesn’t matter, we will acquiesce in the end? Any online Liberal has surely received the emails asking for money, to fight this or that, but what is lacking is the conviction that the fight will translate to action in the end. You are left with the abstract, one day we stand up and right all these wrongs, that is a hard sell, there is no immediacy in that tactic. Fundraising won’t improve until there is something to stand on, maybe that comes from more policy development, but maybe that comes when the stakes are raised and people are faced with another Harper government. Whatever, the Liberals don’t have the same luxury as the Conservatives, they don’t have a persecution complex that feeds the coffers, they don’t have a “out to get me” mentality, a cause, and that simple fact explains a lot, as to why the Conservatives are able to generate oodles of money.


Gayle said...

I posted on this on the previous thread, but I will summarize here.

It seems to me you have to consider the fact that people do not want to donate to a party that is apparently so ready to turn on its leader.

If the party cannot get its act together, why should people give them money? I doubt many people want to fund another leadership convention.

Dion did not win the leadership through support from caucus but rather from support from the grassroots (or the closest thing to grassroots the liberals have). The caucus has rejected the choice of the party.

It is hard to inspire donors with that kind of conduct.

Anonymous said...

Great insights. Going after the press is what the right wing does best. They are threatened by a free press. A free press shines the light of day on their nefarious motives and actions.
If the Liberals go to an election, the money will most definitely come in.

Steve V said...


I respectfully disagree. Maybe it's a vicious cycle, poor fundraising lends to undermining the leader's appeal, in questioning his appeal, it further erodes the motivation to donate. I don't see infighting as the main symptom here, the lack of fundraising is more a reflection of lack of policy to motivate, and the inability of the leader to inspire. Dion isn't the victim here, he makes his own destiny through action, Liberals have been guility of infighting forever, it's how the leader reacts that is relevant.

Steve V said...


The funny part, these attacks on the media are an import from the American right, our Cons just copy and paste the outrage here.

Stephen said...

I disagree with your characterization of Hebert, but I've noticed the rightward skewing of the at-Issue panel for some time.

Last night, for instance, three of the four were right-leaners (Coyne, Gregg and Don Martin).

I've never seen an episode of the panel where the balance went the other way.

Gayle said...

Yes but Steve, in the past the infighting has been between two groups in caucus. Now there is very little support for Dion within caucus, which is why it has been possible to undermine him.

Yes he has to take responsibility for his leadership, but that does not mean caucus should not respect the choice of the grassroots.

I really doubt abstaining is the biggest problem. When I speak to friends who follow politics, but not as closely as I do, they focus on the infighting and the challenges to Dion's leadership. They are waiting for that to sort itself out before they get active again.

wilson said...

Libs are expecting too much too soon. Accept, embrace the time out Canadians gave you to rebuild your party.
Have a policy convention to give Dion his mandate from the grassroots,
fix the block voting mess to one person one vote.
Plan for the election in Oct 2009.

Anonymous said...

Connection to American right: Frank Luntz, main advisor to Harper.

Steve V said...


If that were true, then why wouldn't the grassroots do everything to support Dion, why hasn't the money poured in for his leadership debts? I would argue that much of this is because Dion really had limited grassroot support on the first ballot, in fact, if not party bigwigs support, he would have been fourth in delegates. Ultimately he won, and this was entirely grassroots, but a real enthusiasm, I'm not so sure.

Anyways, I take your point, it is part of the problem.


Hebert is center-left no question, and her presence is probably meant to balance the spectrum represented. However, she is clearly anti-Liberal, anti-Dion, which means there is no sympathetic perspective on that panel. I would also add, Rex Murphy isn't exactly a left-winger, particularly on the environment. Seems to me, if anyone should be bitching about the CBC, it's the left. Canada doesn't have a liberal media, and all you have to do is look at who owns what, it makes the Con cries all the more ridiculous.

Mark Francis said...

Even look at the fundraising efforts of the bloggers being sued by Richard Warman. They've raised money painting themselves as a bulwark against the HRC, even though it's irrelevant. Once again, false representation is used to raise funds.

It's also a tactic used by evangelicals: "If you aren't being persecuted, then you aren't being Christian enough." -- an old mainstay.

You have to motivate people to give. Ethical motivation is much harder to do well.

Steve V said...


I was thinking of the "Ministry" angle too, it's part of the reason I call them the faithful.

Anonymous said...

Attacking and an effort to try to manipulate our arms-length "institutions" would be a good start - I think most Canadians, other than neo-cons would be very worried about this.

Koby said...

Next to the Liberal approach, the Conservative approach looks brilliant, but there are limits to what fear and anger will get you. “Hope” also has to factor in. Now granted much of Obama’s appeal lies not with his policy platform, but with rather with who he is as a person. Urban America is not only keen to see the end of the Bush era but it is also eager to put the baby boom generation to rest. The emergence of an articulate Black Democratic candidate, who just so happens to be the first presidential candidate not to have come of age during the civil rights movement and during Vietnam, promises to accomplish both tasks.

Now Dion is not Obama and he is certainly not Trudeau. He does not symbolize change and he is not a good orator. He is not history on horseback as Hegel would say. However, the problem with the Liberals extends far beyond Dion. The Liberal party has set itself up as the defenders of the status quo. The Liberals do not offer the Canadians much hope. But what the Liberals have going for them is that profound change is not needed the way it is in the States and what the Conservatives are offering is of a magnitude worse.

Anonymous said...

"The Liberals must use issues, and the trick now- how to demand money to fight, when the perception is it doesn’t matter, we will acquiesce in the end?"

I need to ask you, Steve. How do the Dippers and the Greens get the money that were supposed to go to us? When Baird embarrassed himself at Bali, one of the last place money is going to flow will be to Stephane Dion. They go to David Suzuki, Greenpeace, Elizabeth May, Frank De Jong etc. The Grits are much lower on the food chain.

I am not sure how much Jack Layton benefited from his opposition to the extension of the Afghanistan vote.

Maybe the Grits need to get the CAW membership list from Buzz and do a mailing targeted towards them. This may be a good way to help much catch up with the NDP.

Koby said...

mushroom. Do you have the figures as to what kind of people are donating to each of the major parties?

Anonymous said...


I don't. It is difficult to put these figures into real facts. I am linking the weakness of the Liberal Party fundraising numbers to the problems the German Social Democrats and the Labour Party in the UK are having.

There have been research in the political science literature with regards to civil society. Why are traditional organizations such as the Lions and Kiwanis are struggling and fewer people go to bowling alleys these days? While there are many answers to this question, what is pretty obvious is this. Environmental and non-governmental organizations are taking money away from traditional working men associations, trade unions, and maybe even the Liberal party. This is something that needs to be addressed as we risk falling behind in attracting the progressives.

Steve V said...

I'm sure the Liberals losing 90% of their Quebec membership since sponsorship isn't helping with the ability to raise money.

Calgary Junkie said...

There's another consideration ... Harper's base is the prosperous West, especially Alberta, which has more disposable income to donate.

Speaking only for myself, who donates $50 monthly to the CPC, here are my three main reasons for donating:

1. I like the idea of being a part of the Tory team, doing my small part to help the Party win.

2. Harper has done a heck of a lot to get the conservative movement this far and continues to move the ball forward. He has earned my support.

3. A guy like me can easily pay out $600 over a one year period, and wait for the next April to get $400 of it back.