For those who, like me, were unaware of the procedures governing the distribution of MP communications, there are apparently two main types: a ‘householder’, which can be sent out four times a year to every household in the riding, and a ‘ten-percenter’, usually smaller and cheaper, which can be sent out to ten percent of households in a riding.
Two facts regarding these publications came as a bit of a surprise to me:
1) they are paid for with taxpayer dollars as part of an MP’s communications allowance, and
2) an MP can send ten-percenters to households in ridings other than their own as long as they make it clear it’s from them and not from that riding’s MP.
Both of these types of mailings are intended to allow an MP to communicate with their constituents about what’s happening in the riding, what they are doing for them on Parliament Hill, and to get feedback on specific issues. This would seem to be a reasonable thing to be covered under a government-paid allowance.
They are NOT supposed to be used for electioneering or partisan politics. That sort of thing is supposed to be paid for by the party being promoted.
Unfortunately, the rules governing MP communications are sufficiently vague that all parties have taken to using this particular form of junk mail to trash other parties, smear other MPs, and even collect names through thinly veiled ‘surveys’. I would love to cite these rules verbatim, but the document in which they are contained (the "House of Commons Members' Allowances and Services Manual") doesn’t appear to be available anywhere online. Maybe some MP can help me out here.
This is not the first time the issue of misuse of ten-percenters has come up. Two years ago the matter was brought up in the House and was referred to Committee for review. The issue was discussed in June and again in November when a motion was brought forward to severely limit the partisan use of ten-percenters and end the practice of mailing them into other ridings. The motion was defeated.
I should point out that I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this particular flyer if it had come from someone I liked. However, let me be clear: I object to this abuse of my taxpayer dollars REGARDLESS of who is sending them.
You’re all guilty. Stop it.
This really should be a no-brainer: taxpayer-sponsored communications, whether they be by mail, radio, television or internet, should be non-partisan. How can you tell? Well, if it has a party logo or mentions a specific party (yours or the other guy’s), or if it says something unkind about your opponent, it’s partisan.
If you are not my elected MP and you want to get your message to me, then get your own damned party to pay for it. If you are my elected MP and you want to toot your own horn or talk about what a great job the Government is doing, fine. But don’t be using my money to trash your opponents or promote your party here or in other ridings.
There. Wasn’t that easy? Now, go play nice.