If you’ve read some of the blogs on the progressive side of the blogosphere today and yesterday, you’ve seen blogposts from bloggers reporting that people in ridings who are not currently being held by the Conservatives are getting flyers in their mail from other Conservative MP’s outside of the riding in an effort to spread Conservative propaganda – presumably in an effort to sway voters there to vote for the Conservatives next time an election is held. This is a rather questionable use of their advertising/communications budget, not to mention of taxpayer’s funds, but it is a concerted strategy on the Cons. part. (As an aside, I find it amusing in Wandering Coyote’s blogpost’s case that they’re sending in a flyer attacking Dion’s Green Shift plan to an NDP-held riding. Apparently, the Conservatives hate the Green Shift worse then the NDP does.. so you need to vote for the Cons is the apparent message by the Conservative braintrust in sending that flyer to that particular riding).
It’s been happening, for example, in the aforementioned riding of Guelph which is about to get a byelection. Matthew, a fellow blogger at Prog Blog who is currently unaligned in his voting preferences, was kind enough to send me these 2 scans of 2 different flyers he’s received at Guelph in the past month.
These were sent into Guelph on behalf of Joe Preston, MP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, and Colin Mayes, MP for Okanagan—Shuswap, in BC to various mailboxes in Guelph. You can see the two different messages they are attempting to use – the familiar “Dion’s Tax on Everything!” bit, as well as the “we’re tough on thugs and crime” – which is the exact same thing Bev Oda shipped into Kitchener (see links above).
I’ve also got an email of a flyer scanned and sent to me from the Burlington Ontario riding of Mike Wallace, who’s also sending out flyers to his constituents attacking the Green Shift – not unexpected, but people in that riding are also getting the same or similar message from the infamous Rob Anders, who is of course nowhere near Burlington, but out in Calgary (scan on that document pending and will be posted once I receive it), so Mike is apparently getting a complimentary propaganda boost in the Burlington riding from good ole’ Rob.
I should mention I’ve received a flyer today from my local MP, Dave Mackenzie, which is using the exact same flyer/document template as these other flyers.. but his message is trying to trumpet Conservative product safety measures. I don’t know yet whether there were some other flyers sent into Oxford from external Conservative MP’s.. but I’ll be checking that out.
So to recap, we have Conservative MP’s sending in flyers on their behalf to non-Conservative held ridings (which is allowed, I understand it, as long as it only is sent to 10% of the riding, and if you look at Garth Turner’s link above, that wasn’t followed in his case – by coincidentally, the aforementioned Mike Wallace), and we’ve also got Conservative MP’s sending out flyers as a “courtesy” and on their behalf to other Conservative-held ridings, which if I’ve read correctly online and in the news is part of the bone of contention as to whether this is following the spirit of the House of Commons rules or not.
All of this pre-election propaganda blitz (some of it rather questionable) done at taxpayers expense.
[email protected]:06 pm: I received a rather interesting response to this article from someone who has been up on the Hill: It briefly said: “under rules that have a return address – free to your MP but clearly marking that it is going to Cons Caucus – a whole other kettle of fish!” So, I’m going to see if I can find out what exactly that comment is referring to with what I presume is with regards to the return mail address on these flyers being sent to an MP ‘c/o Government Caucus Services’ and the rules that are supposed to govern that.
UPDATE [email protected]:11 pm: The person wrote back fairly quickly and said this in their own words in the email to clarify the first email they sent:
“You have the right to mail postage free to your MP at their Hill office… ie. (name of so-and-so MP), MP House of Commons, Ottawa. Mail arrives directly (to MP’s) office (well, after being sorted at some depot). It does not clear Liberal Caucus, PMO, PCO etc. It’s between the MP (and staff) and you. There is no free postage to Liberal Caucus office, Liberal Party etc. Only free to MP. Any MP you like. All of them if you like. This envelope/flyer would suggest it is free to them c/o someone else? Huh?”
Very interesting indeed.
UPDATE [email protected]:57 pm: Wandering Coyote highlights even more Conservative spam from out-of-riding Conservative MP’s he received today. This one was on arctic sovereignty – one I haven’t seen before now – which seems more in-tune with what the Cons. might target an NDP-held riding with. It sure does seem like a popular riding for these outside ads.