Monday, November 19, 2012

Negative Campaigning in the federal by-elections

By nature opposition parties will spend a lot of time criticizing government candidates in by-elections, this is a form of negative campaigning but about the only type that I think is reasonable, though often people go much too far and try to make us hate the government.   In watching the three current federal by-elections there has been the expected anti-Harper screeds but there have been some other negative campaigning.

Calgary Centre
In Calgary Centre the negative campaigning seems to mainly be between the Green Chris Turner and the Liberal Harvey Locke.   Chris Turner has gone after Harvey Locke for living in Banff and not Calgary.   I hate this where you live stuff being raised, it typically is a sign of desperation.  

There are days when I hate Twitter, actually many of them though most times because it feeds my ADHD so well.  This time I hate Twitter because I can no longer find some of the Locke supporter tweets crapping on Chris Turner.  

I can understand why both campaigns are going after each other, they each think there is now a chance to win but that this can only happen if they poach as many of the other side's supporters as possible.   I think they are missing out on the reality that the majority is not likely to vote at all and these are the people they should be getting to come out and vote.

The other negative campaigning going on in Calgary Centre are the attacks on Joan Crockatt for not attending all candidates meetings.   Frankly, most all candidates meetings these days are a waste of everyone's time.   You are typically talking to a room of 200 to 500 people of which 80-90% have made up their mind and for the most part are there to support their person and harm the candidates they dislike.   At best in an all candidates meeting you can change a handful of minds.   All candidates meetings are useful when there is press coverage of them or they are on the radio.

It is a legitimate decision to choose not to go to all candidates meetings and spend your time going door to door.   A candidate can meaningfully connect with 40 to 80 people at the door in two hours.   This is better than what you can achieve at an all candidates meeting.

People who were already not going to vote for Joan Crockatt have been using her non-attendance at the all candidates meetings as a way to attack her.   No other candidate running any of these three by-elections has been the basis of as many negative attacks as she has been.  

Victoria
Liberal candidate Paul Summerville in Victoria has surprised me from the start with his focus in very negative way about sewage treatment in the campaign.   He seemed to be convinced that he would be able to use this as one issue that would set him apart from the other candidates and this would lead to him doing well in the by-election.    A federal by-election is not a one issue campaign but with his ongoing insistence about sewage treatment Paul Summerville seems to want to make it one issue campaign.

I was not convinced sewage treatment was a good core campaign platform when I first heard about it because I knew what the Green Party position was on the issue and it was not that dramatically different than Summerville's own, but this has not stopped Paul Summerville from trying to make the case that there is a dramatic difference between the two.   Frankly when I read the Green approach to the issue and Paul Summerville's, the Green one seems to have more though and consideration put into, certainly Donald Galloway is not jumping on the Hyperbole Express.

The campaign plan was also predicated on the idea that no Conservative Party candidate would speak out against the sewage treatment plant because the current government has offered money for the plan.  Conservative Dale Gann has now come out against the current plan.   Instead of taking some credit for creating the debate on the issue and getting Dale Gann to change his view, Paul Summerville posted a rather sarcastic, and frankly nasty piece, about Dale Gann choosing to be against sewage treatment.    How does a posting like that improve the quality of our politics in Canada?   How does it do anything to lead towards a country where excellence matters?

What we need in politics is more civility and respect, trying to make someone look bad for changing their mind does not fit into that category.   I read the post he did about Dale Gann and  sewage treatment and I see on no level at all how reporting a fictitious press conference by Stephen Harper in a sarcastic way does anything to improve things.   It is as if he would prefer that no Conservative think for themselves, express their own opinion or change their mind.

It is from Paul Summerville that I am seeing some of the most negative posting in this campaign in general such as:
Based on his writing and how he has campaigned in this election, I am not convinced that Paul Summerville is able to be an MP that will improve the quality of governance in Canada.

Durham
I have to admit I have not followed this race nearly as closely as the others which means I think I have missed some of the negative campaigning.  

I know there has been some issues about Liberal Grant Humes about how he has used issues about veterans to help his campaign.  There is a website Durham4Vets that looks independent but is clearly linked with Grant Humes' election campaign as the website is authorized by the official campaign agent for Grant Humes    A group has formed on Facebook speaking out against Grant Humes use of the veteran issue.

There is another Grant Humes website up, or at least authorized by his official agent, StopTheCruelty.   This is about pet cruelty.
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