Saturday, November 07, 2009

Time To Connect The Dots

The first step in defeating a government, undermine their credibility. The notion of an out of control Conservative Party, showing complete disregard for taxpayer money, is something that will resonate, particularly if examples are PLENTIFUL. If I could offer one piece of humble advice, the Liberals should consider attack ads, revolving around the narrative of partisan self promotion, using OUR money.

Two more items today, for the file. One further confirms an already validated theme. The other paints a distasteful abuse of public funds. The Conservatives are spending 3X what the previous government did on internal polling, focus group testing, all in the name of messaging and selling the government agenda. The Conservatives are spending 3X what any previous government has on "close to the line" partisan advertising, promoting themselves. The Conservatives are engaged in a strong arm campaign to force municipalities to pony up taxpayer dollars, to promote the Economic Action Plan in their communities. The Conservatives are blanketing the country with partisan junk mail, spending 500% more than when they took office:
The price tag for sending flyers from MPs to homes across the country has soared during the past couple of years with Conservatives outstripping MPs from all other parties.

In some cases, Conservative MPs are spending more than 500% more on flyers than they did just two years ago.

An analysis by Sun Media of spending figures tabled in the House of Commons this week for the year ended on March 31 shows that the cost to taxpayers for MPs printing has soared to $10 million in 2008/09 compared to $5.9 million in 2005.


Under the rules of Parliament, MPs are entitled to charge the cost of printing two types of flyers to the House of Commons. There is no maximum spending limit.

In the past, Conservatives have defended their decision to take advantage of the flyers program to promote their party's positions, saying it is open equally to all MPs.

However, an analysis of spending on printing by each MP last year shows that the bills racked up by MPs from other parties pales in comparison to spending by the Conservatives. In fact, out of the 100 highest-spending MPs, all but 18 were Conservatives.

Graph (source Sun Media):

Apart from partisans, people generally view these flyers as unnecessary junk mail. I'm not sure most have connected the dots, and realized that not only are these flyers annoying, THEY are paying for them.

The Liberals need to tie all these items together, because the sheer mass becomes very compelling, denoting a consistent pattern of a Conservative Party wastefully spending taxpayer money for selfish gain. The beauty of this line of attack, it also brings into focus the issue of the deficit- how can the government justify such waste, when Canada is awash in debt? There is a certain detached arrogance at play here, and history tells us that Canadians don't take kindly to this sort of waste. The fact this government has NO PEER in this regard, something that needs to be argued with passion and REPETITION.

There is no compelling counter for the government, their retorts are obliterated by the simple math, and any conversation will find independent validation for the Liberals. I think it's time for a donor outreach, to support a sizeable campaign, addressing this issue. This attack line speaks to the whole idea of good government, it undermines the Conservatives and it addresses a core complaint about political excess. What are we waiting for, it's all right there, sitting in our lap?


Mark Francis said...

In the least, a private member's bill is needed to require 10 per-centers to have in 14-pt type, all caps "THIS PAMPHLET PAID FOR WITH TAXPAYERS' MONEY"

Steve V said...

Fantastic idea. It would dry up immediately.

Northern PoV said...

An out right ban on the 10%ers would be a good start.

The Harris gov't abused the public purse in much the same way. Harper's Ontario thugs are all retreads from that group.

I agree that a consistent expose of these spending abuses and a promise to curb them under a Parliamentary officer in the future will eventually resonate with the public.

RuralSandi said...

Well, there you have it. I've said before that I've received about 25 ten percenters (one I threw out, the rest I've saved) from about mid-Jan to Oct. - take a look at the biggest spenders - Rick Norlock is my MP.

Anthony said...

Sandi can you put them all on a table somewhere and take a picture?

Using propaganda to create propaganda is too funny but that would make for a great image....

"This cost taxpayers 90 000$"

RuralSandi said...

I just checked - the population of the whole Northumberland-Quinte West county - approx 120,000.

Some of the ten percenters are booklets (one 14 pager) and huge flyers with "blue" colour.

marie said...

Great idea Mark but who will pass this bill?. Not the Reform Cons that's for sure. Sheila Fraser might be a better source of promoting that bill you speak of.

I have received many this year myself as well as last year and saved quite a few myself.BTW we don't have a Reforn Con Mp in our riding. Too bad as they would hear from me often. I would become their worst nightmare. The only 10 per centers I get from other parties is an NDP one and at least he has the brains to give info on what they are actually doing and off course some info on the Cons. I don't save those because they are infrequent and contain some credible information.

Jerry Prager said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Prager said...

You know what I think just happened: a year ago, after last Thanksgiving, the Duffyverse began with the breaking of CTV's promise to Dion's people about not airing that tri-peat answer tape. The duufyverse thus established as an untruthful realm, it created a bubble not unlike what Saint Paul called 'a principality of the air' which grew all through the fiasco of the prorogued parliament, and which flowered when the Duffster was made Senator in charge of Conservative Fortunes. It was a dream world of Teflon PM's and his shadowy cabinet, it was a national delusion that lasted until the other night when a ranting Duffy popped the bubble of his own conservative fantasy world by lying during his attack on the NDP's Peter Stoffer. His veneer of journalistic integrity shredded by his own maniac mindedness, it was thus, that his own pricky behaviour burst the Duffyverse, after which a wave of non-partisan support for Stoffer washed across the country, restoring the nation to its senses. The thing that was rotten in the state of Denmark has been identified. The tide has turned, the opportunity to go forward is now, the hour is ours for the seizing. But it has to do with that non-partisan grace in the defense of truth, lose that in the wrong kind of attack, and you will fail to replace Harper's uber partisanship with a vision of a bigger Canada. This nation has gotten smaller of spirit and poorer of pocket under the policies and practices of the Reform-Con coalition Party. We need a sensible alternative.

Jim said...

I get more 10%ers from that cue ball Jack Layton, by far.

I even got a couple from Iggy.

So be careful.

They ALL abuse the system.

rockfish said...

Jim, did you see Layton or Ignatieff's name on the top-20 offenders? It'd be interesting to see where the party leaders fare in this, but that's besides the point. The CONs are wasting a lot more of your $ than they want you to know. Their 10 percenters have not had a 'promotional/information' design to them by and large, but I have received probably 20 this year and half of them were targeted against the opposition. Taking my problems with their ideology aside, I found some very outlandish claims and dishonest statements, both on the attack and as a representation of actual CON action.
They've set a new standard and have obliterated any other that you use to complain about. And they did it all with our bank balance bleeding red. That maybe why they're trying to paint the Canadian landscape blue.

DL said...

I agree that these 10%ers shoudl be abolished, but as long as they exist - you can't fault any MPs or parties for taking advantage of what they are legally allowed to do.

To me, it speaks to Liberal incompetence that they aren;t flooding the country with ten percenters of their own to the maximum extent allowed by law. I know Liberals send them out too - but why do they let themselves get left in the dust by the Tories??

Gene Rayburn said...

Jim, do you also pick up radio stations with your molars like that episode of Gilligan's Island?

Mark Francis said...


It is legal to use the ten percenters this way, but it was never how they were intended to be used.

Sure it's legal, but it isn't ethical.

Keep this up, and we'll soon enough have an entire ministry devoted to spending our money on partisan propaganda.

Steve V said...

"They ALL abuse the system."

Actually they don't. You can read right???

Tomm said...


I think that attack ads along this line would be very effective.

It also hurts the CPC with their base. Guys like me that want less government, less taxes and less spin.

Truth within the right context is also good since attack ads have to be accurate, and this would be.

I don't know why I'm giving you advice, but I think it would work.

Tof KW said...

Tomm, I’ll wager your helping advice here comes from you beginning to see that Harper & Co. have abandoned almost every principle they once stood for, and the new CPC has now become the very thing which they once campaigned against. Having railed against past dirty Lib & PC governments, they are now just one major spending scandal away from being added into that lot.

However, past LPC governments were hardly squeaky clean on this issue, and while such attack ads will help ‘connect the dots’ - I doubt they alone will help their poll numbers in any dramatic fashion. Coupled with these attack ads, Ignatieff needs to release new and clearly defined LPC policies on limiting government advertising and taxpayer funded self-promotion. There is a working model available too for they to plagiarize from, the Ontario Liberals installed tough new advertising guidelines in this province after the Ont PC’s shameless self-promotion practises seen during the Harris/Eves years. And remember - many of these Harris half-treads now make up the Ontario caucus of Harper’s House of Pork. The LPC could also pledge to install the final major recommendations from the Gomery inquiry that Harper purposely left out of his Accountability Act. Aside from giving the Grits more credibility on this issue, it would also help remind Canadians who exactly created the Gomery commission in the first place.

So my advice to the Libs, running attack ads will only go so far. An actual election may help the electorate to focus, and they will see Harper & Co. as the spending abuses they are, but they need a reason to vote for the Liberals. Begin to release LPC advertising policies + attack ads ASAP, and take the high road on this issue. Do this and you’ll see all those soft CPC votes in Ontario will move to the Grits.

Tomm said...


You are wrong with your thoughts on my motivation. It is just to engage in the debate and something Steve has said that I thought was a good idea.

I am still firmly a Harper supporter and feel that on balance (from the Environment through US, Free Trade, or Afghanistan), he has provided the set of views I can both trust and I think are best for Canada, in addition to the economic (lower taxes, balance the budget) issues.

I have no love for the LPC so Harper's partisan messaging that negatively affects the LPC does not bother me. Did you see Mark Holland on QP on Sunday? (he really needs to keep attending that anger management class)

I also agree with your assessment that if the LPC gets out some negative messaging AND develops a clear set of policies they can take certain leads away from the CPC.

The LPC does have to tread lightly and be careful since they are still the party most Canadian's associate with bone deep corruption.