Here’s a novel idea when you are running for public office and need name recognition to help attract the votes that could win you the race—don’t talk to the media to get your message out and don’t show up at all-candidates meetings to tell the public why they should vote to you.
Sound like a winning stratgegy?
Well, it would appear to some in the Conservative Party of Canada, it is.
Despite the two Tories running in the Central Okanagan ridings—Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country and Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola)—denying they have been given such a directive, it’s clear from several reports in recent days that other Conservatives candidates are employing that strategy.
In the case of Cannan and Albas, both incumbents, there’s nothing to indicate they will not be talking to reporters or showing up to all-candidates meetings given their track records for availability, access and their conduct so far in this election.
But some of the men and women they are running with in other ridings have actually gone so far as to put it in writing that trifling issues like media coverage and accessibility during this election campaign and talking to voters about issues important to them are off the table.
A B.C. Tory candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, in rejecting an invitation to participate in an all-candidates meeting there, went so far as to say his campaign would tell the voters what the issues are in campaign literature—and that’s all he would talk about.
If that is not the definition of arrogance and your local political representative wannabe representing the party to you—not the other way around, I don’t know what is.
Heading into this election, the Tories were saddled with a leader who is perceived to be a control freak, despite assertions to the contrary by Cannan. Failure by Stephen Harper’s candidates to speak to reporters or appear before voters to debate others only makes that unflattering perception stronger.
Asking for someone’s vote, while at the same time telling them you don’t want to hear what they have to say is a slap in the face to the principle of democracy.
One man, one vote means more than just those four words.
Such a strategy opens up all Tory candidates—even those who do not plan to go along with this crazy scheme—to the perception by some that the Conservative Party is not only telling voters it knows better than them, it also doesn’t want to hear any argument about it.
Elections are about representation. Once in office, a politician may ignore the will of his or her constituents and there’s not much voters can do until next election.
But during a campaign? Well, that’s when voters have the hammer and it doesn’t take much to make them swing it and change the box they tick on the ballot come Oct. 19.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.