Robocalls, investigations, and avoiding the mainstream media
Robocalls and lamestream media. "For conservatives to win we need to communicate our message directly to voters, without the filter of the mainstream media," Campaign Research's Richard Ciano told a gathering at a Manning Centre function last week.
I saw it on the national stage, when after the 2004 federal election, the consensus media/elite view was that Stephen Harper would never become prime minister, because he didn't have 'charisma'. I saw it in Toronto when the media elites watched, dumbfounded, the ascendency of Rob Ford. How could a candidate who sometimes had trouble pronouncing the word “unsustainable”, possibly achieve high office in Toronto? And finally, I'm seeing it right now, while the media continues to dismiss Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party's unrelenting march towards government.
Victories only become possible when we master the mechanisms of communicating directly to the vast pool of potential voters. Whether it is direct mail and television ads that the Conservative Party of Canada under Stephen Harper has become so effective at creating, or the telephone townhalls that Rob Ford used to great effect, direct unfiltered dialogue was crucial to making aconnection with voters that led to victory. And in time we'll unveil the new approach that Tim Hudak will take to speak directly to voters.
So it should come as no surprise when the Liberals and NDP seize on an opportunity to create hysteria about entire forms of direct voter contact as they have been recently.
Let me be perfectly clear and echo the comments of Preston Manning that any deliberate attempt to frustrate a voter's desire to cast a ballot with fraud or misdirection is completely deplorable. I join him and others in wishing Elections Canada investigators and the police godspeed in finding and bringing to justice the culprit(s).
But I also observe that the Liberal and NDP’s systematic undermining of confidence in Canada's electoral process, and fear mongering about virtually all forms of live or automated telephone calls to voters, is equally cynical and self- serving.
Elections Canada received 119 complaints regarding misleading and abusive telephone and “robocalls” made to constituents during the 2011 general election, as of September 28, 2011. Of these, only 30 complaints referred to false information regarding changes to poll locations.
After the Liberal/NDP week-long hysteria campaign there were 31,000. Did 31,000 voters suddenly remember, nine months later, that they got a suspicious robocall last election? No - they are simply being manipulated by a cynical opposition campaign designed specifically to scare voters, discredit the conservative majority in the last election, and cast doubt about all election telephone calls.
Why do the Liberals and NDP want to remove direct contact from Canadian elections? Because put it bluntly: they suck at it.
Since the 1990's when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) approaches became widespread, conservative parties have moved quickly to implement this essential business process into electioneering. And for the last 15 years we have amassed a considerable lead on the Liberals and NDP in this area, as evidenced by the numbers on our direct response fundraising programs. Why? Is it because we had people with more technical savvy? Is it because the Liberals were stupid? Or lazy? Personally I prefer stupidity as an explanation, but it's immaterial. The fact that they Liberals and NDP couldn't get their act together on CRM approaches and direct contact is not our fault. It's theirs.
So rather than pull up their sleeves and get to work to eliminate our advantage they want to take the typical socialist/big government approach to their problem - create a public crisis of confidence in telephone contact so that they can ban it at the next possible opportunity. It's a tempting approach to take, when winning is more important to you than free speech. I remember going to meetings hosted by the Chief Electoral Officer with representatives from all parties in Ontario on behalf of the Ontario PC Party. The fringe parties that had no money or support used to advocate a Soviet style election process, in which an election would consist of flyers put in an envelope mailed by elections Canada and debates hosted by the media. Now the Liberals and NDP have come to this.
If you think it unthinkable, think again. Television political ads are banned in Britain and voter databases are almost unheard of in Europe. Let's not let Liberal and NDP insecurity and weakness bring Canada to that. Never apologize for the lawful use of telephone or other forms of direct contact. The conservative movement would be worse off, Canada would be worse off and freedom would be worse off."