Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dirty Pool?

A few days ago I received a flyer in the mail. Just your usual Conservative Party propaganda I thought, until I examined the thing more closely.

Here’s the front:

Inside is the usual blah blah blah, "it’s all the Liberals’ fault but we’re here to Get Things Done" partisan talking points from our friends at the Conservative Party of Canada.

But is it actually from the CPC? Here’s what’s on the back:

Let's see. We have Stephen Harper, MP (as opposed to PM). We have a Conservative Party logo. We have a government website URL and a plug for ‘Canada’s New Government’. Please note that nowhere does it say which of these individuals and organizations is actually responsible for the production, distribution and (most importantly) financing of this little publication.

I emailed the Secretary of the Halton Conservative EDA asking for clarification on this. He told me that he "hadn’t seen the document", and suggested that I contact the EDA President directly since he didn't know anything about it. This would seem to rule out the local Party as the culprit, since presumably the Secretary would be at least aware of if not directly responsible for the publication of such things. I am still waiting to hear from the EDA President, though, so I’ll reserve judgement until I hear his side.

Unless he Googles me first, in which case I suspect I won't be hearing from him at all.

(Edit - apparently the EDA President never received the emails I sent.)

I also emailed Garth Turner asking exactly what the rules are governing this sort of thing, but haven’t heard back from him either. I tried working my way through the labyrinth of the Canada Elections Act myself, and the closest I could come up with is this:

Election Advertising

Message must be authorized

320. A candidate or registered party, or a person acting on their behalf, who causes election advertising to be conducted shall mention in or on the message that its transmission was authorized by the official agent of the candidate or by the registered agent of the party, as the case may be.

Government means of transmission

321. (1) No person shall knowingly conduct election advertising or cause it to be conducted using a means of transmission of the Government of Canada.

I’m no lawyer, but I interpret this to mean that a) if this flyer is from the Conservative Party in general, or from Stephen Harper in particular (since Halton doesn’t have a Conservative candidate yet), it should say so clearly, and b) if it is from the Government of Canada, it is in direct contravention of the Elections Act.

But can it be considered ‘election advertising’ when no election has been called? The Act appears to say no, but I don’t know. I would think that the same rules would apply when a Party is spending money trying to win the next election, regardless of whether that election has been called yet or not. But maybe I’m just na├»ve.

I will follow up if I hear back from either the local Party President or from Turner. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this little tidbit I found on the Halton CPC website, written by Past President Pat Whyte. I'm guessing Pat didn't get the latest memo from CPC Headquarters that global warming is real now:
"Interesting times breed interesting questions and even sometimes interesting answers. Over the last week or so, ever since the Conservatives brought out their new Clean Air Act, there has been a brouhaha over whether it goes far enough (Liberals, Greens and NDP) or whether it goes too far. Of course, this Act is in response to the global warming scare being promulgated by Al Gore, David Suzuki and a bunch of so-called scientists."

It just gets more cynical from there. Enjoy.

(Edit - And now I know what a 'ten-percenter' is. Thank you. If you are visiting here from the Garth Turner Commenters Club, welcome, and please continue on to my follow up post.)


  1. Um. Suzuki has a Ph.D. in zoology. I'm pretty sure that fulfills the scientist requirement put forth by Pat Whyte (no relation, thank goodness!). Twits.

  2. The Elections Act doesn't apply at all in this situation.

    The piece in question is called a 10 percenter - every MP uses them. Parties will often use 10 percenters from a safe seat to distribute in other ridings. I have plenty of Liberal examples to show if you wish.

  3. This is a Liberal party dirty trick. Very clever, I might add, which means Garth Almighty was not responsible :-)

  4. I just maintain a file on such trash. I have kept all the POLITICAL TRASH found in my mailbox. I have kept ALL THE TRASH that came from Mike Wallace, MP for Burlington. In particular, I have kept his 'promise' dealing with income trusts and seniors' nesteggs. If he visits my door in the leadup to the next election, I plan to drag him off the property!

    Pyotr Petrobitch

  5. Jennifer-
    Interesting post. I was pointed in your direction by another who had read your commentary.

    Specifically, I noted with interest your comment "I am still waiting to hear from the EDA President, though, so I’ll reserve judgement until I hear his side."

    As the EDA President, I can state with confidence that I have not received any communicaiton from you on this or any other matter.

    I hope that you see fit to correct your post in the interst of accuracy for your readers.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Will Stewart, Halton Conservative EDA President

  6. I sent my original email to your secretary, Michael Hale on June 28th. Michael responded promptly and said, "I will contact Will Stewart, our President and ask him what this is about (if he knows)." The next day he sent another email asking me to contact you directly at I did so, and followed up with a second email on the 30th that included a scan of the flyer.

    Michael Hale can verify this, so you might want to talk to him.

    As for correcting the piece, there isn't anything to correct - I did email you, and I hadn't heard back. However, if you would like to respond to my original question, you can email me at