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Conservative strategists trying to employ the Dianne Haskett strategy in Vaughan

What might be the Dianne Haskett strategy, you ask? Well, it involves the Conservative Party and its election strategists keeping a potentially controversial candidate away from the press and attending a minimal amount of public debates, so as to try and prevent them from saying something in public that will seriously hinder their election chances in a riding that might not appreciate their right-wing candour.

That strategy was most famously used in an attempt to get Dianne Haskett elected in London in a 2006 bye-election (vacated by then-Liberal MP Joe Fontana):

Haskett, a former two-term London mayor, has not granted an interview to national media since entering the race late last month, according to (Glen) Pearson… A request by The Canadian Press for an interview with Haskett, as part of a riding profile, was rebuffed earlier this week after her campaign sought the request in writing…The Conservative campaign team in the last general election worked hard to keep some local candidates away from the media, at one point physically bustling a candidate into a kitchen to avoid reporters’ questions. For the record, officials in the PMO did not respond Friday to direct questions about whether they were involved in Haskett’s communications strategy or whether they approved of her refusal to grant media interviews.

Haskett of course finished 3rd behind Liberal MP Glen Pearson and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and fled back to Washington to work for the Republicans – under cover of darkness as stealthily as she and the Conservative war-room tried to manage her campaign.

Now we appear to have the Conservatives attempting a repeat of that strategy in 2010 in Vaughan, involving Julian Fantino:

The usually blunt speaking Fantino, the Conservative’s candidate in the Nov. 29 Vaughan federal by-election appears to be running a textbook peek-a-boo campaign. He’s become a kind of virtual candidate. Voters can follow him on Twitter and listen to his messages on the campaign website but have yet to see him debate his opponents. The Toronto Star had no luck reaching Fantino or even his office despite several calls and an email. So far Fantino has bowed out of one date for an all-candidates meeting because of a previous commitment but that has been rescheduled for Nov. 23. An organizer said he has yet to confirm whether he will attend… Fantino is widely known as a person with a short fuse and who does not suffer criticism well.

This is also in a riding that was held by the Liberals. So, it appears that the strategy in opposition-held ridings with potentially controversial candidates is to try and muzzle them until after the election, so the voting public doesn’t get an inkling of what they’d really be like. I see from one of the Blogging Tories on Facebook that he’s actually planning a “Door-knocking blitz” a week from today. I’m glad to see the PMO has decided they actually need to show Fantino’s face in the riding a bit. I wonder if they’ll eventually allow him to attend a debate with the other candidates and take some questions from the press?

Fortunately for us, and for Vaughan voters, if you don’t get to hear what Fantino’s views are on different topics because of that PMO muzzle, you can get an idea from reading his book, as my Liberal colleague Joseph Uranowski has been doing, pointing out his rather right-wing views on controversial topics, which includes amongst other things the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That looks almost like an Evra Levant’ish “It’s the Stupid Charter” type view, doesn’t it?

Go check those quotes of his out. His book (and Joseph’s research) may be much more informative then anything the PMO might (not) allow Fantino to say right now.

(And check out Liberal candidate Tony Genco, who’s been more then willing to say where he stands on issues, and doesn’t have any muzzle on him.

14 comments to Conservative strategists trying to employ the Dianne Haskett strategy in Vaughan

  • LK

    Exactly what Gayle said.

  • Gayle

    “Liberals should not take the riding of Vaughan for granted.”
    “Toronto Star, PPG and National media are NOT important for local races.”

    Neither of which addresses Scott’s point. You may well be correct. Fantino may take this riding – in fact I believe most liberal bloggers and media pundits have given him the edge. The point, however, is that as usual Harper is muzzling his candidates. That people may not notice this does not stop it from being so.

    • CanadianSense

      @Gayle, Good judgment on the part of candidate(s) to bypass organizations that exhibit a bias or a poor record is not proof of a muzzling by leadership. Some candidates may ignore advice and track record of the Liberal media.

      Rob Ford has decided to bypass the Liberal media outlets in Toronto. Fantino/Ford appear to not rely on the self appointed “bike short wearing latte sipping” gatekeepers for delivery of their message. This makes for control a problem for the Star, Globe and CBC.

      Fantino has been a locally active in the community and unlike Tony has brand name recognition. Diane was a former Mayor that left for the U.S. for several years. In that race the national media were involved with covering E. May. This race is not similar. We don’t have a national leader trying to acquire a seat. Glen Pearson was active locally as a firefighter, local food bank, HR work in Sudan prior to throwing his hat in the race.

      The current candidate from the LPOC resume does not compare to Glen D. Pearson. He comes up very short. I don’t have the CV for Fantino but was able to find some charitable work and recognition by the Italian community for Fantino very easily.

      The LPOC must carry this SEAT. It will be damaging to the spirit within the Liberal party. Each party should carry their own seats as margins were very large. Partisan bloggers like myself have been know to have FUN and make jokes at the expense of other parties. Gayle this has been a Liberal held riding for a very long time. This riding should not be a contested unless support for the Liberals is in jeopardy. Maurizio left the party with leadership debts and an EDA with only $ 13k for a new career in Vaughan. Does it make sense to attack the Federal Government with EAP and so many joint projects requiring all levels?

      Maurizio may also have some resentment how he was left hanging by his party after the Bloc-NDP stepped in to pass the Bill from Jason Kenney to reform parts of immigration.

      I have NOT seen M.B. throw ANY support behind Tony. Any idea why with a very short campaign, MB is refusing to endorse the Liberal candidate or brand to hold his seat? Did MB’s staff stay or move with him for the Mayoralty race?

      • Gayle

        @CanadianSense,

        “Good judgment on the part of candidate(s) to bypass organizations that exhibit a bias…”

        I stopped right there. When you have to make stuff up to justify your actions, well that simply suggests you know you are wrong.

        Do have a nice day.

  • Toronto Star, PPG and National media are NOT important for local races. The hatchet job on Rob Ford failed by the Globe and Star. The local media and door to door canvassing will be more important. The local ethnic media will also be a factor.

    Fantino in well known as was the former 2x mayor both considered star candidates.Elizabeth May and Glen Pearson were more successful than Hackett who had been away from the area for several years.
    Your candidate is a liberal from Chretien era who is unknown and the riding was left with very little money.
    It is funny how both Liberal candidates are trying to invoke the talking points from the national party as if they matter.The slam on investing money into prisons for violent offenders after the liberals supporting ending 2 for 1 is funny and going to hurt the liberals in both contests.
    The Economic Action Plan has given the Conservative candidates several local projects to champion. Will they attack the government for spending money in those former NDP-Liberal ridings too?

    I bet Tony will have to defend why the Dalton gang are raising taxes every year.It sucks to running as a progressive-liberal in Europe, United states and Canada. Taxpayers are fed up with entitlements including those “rental mistakes” by two long time Liberal MP’s.

    • Redrum

      @Klik, true to form: with 100% more pork, and 1000% more empty calories

      http + ://scottdiatribe.canflag.com/2010/11/10/some-nice-quotes-of-julian-fantinos-on-the-gun-registry/#comment-34320

      • Jon Pertwee

        @Redrum, Klik is a true mystery meat. Plenty of filler and sawdust but not much real meat.

        Then I guess this is what happens when you create a blog noone wants to read.

        I for one am sure happy I dont live in the Crackpot’s world. One where people that dont agree with her are accused of being responsible for all the evils in the world. Where a defense as lame as “I loved John Nunziata” is considered valid. I am so happy I dont live in Oakville Crackpot’s world.

        Im happy that no matter how dark things may get, it will always be better than Klikland

        Back to you Klik

        • Jon Pertwee

          @Jon Pertwee, Of course this will be responded by oft used cry “Only the left relies on personal attacks” Well spare us Klik, a quick search can show that you resort to personal attacks as regularily as the sun is in the sky and you’re insane and irrational generalizations of anyone that disagrees with you are well… insane.

          So please, Klik, could you spare us from your usual boring drivel and maybe stay quiet until you actually have something to contribute. Changing the subject to fit your wingnut angle isnt contributing to the debate. Its distracting from your inability to debate the subject at hand.

          So please, Klik, give it a rest.

          Klik = spam

  • Fantino is winning in the public and private property sign count. Liberals should not take the riding of Vaughan for granted.

  • Peter S.

    Funny you should mention Haskett…Fantino was police chief in London many years ago.

  • Will M.

    Actually, it’s the strategy employed by the tea baggers in the US just recently.

  • […] The Vaughan byelection is just 13 days away and Mr. Fantino has been hiding from the media in true Stephen Harper fashion. Fantino and Harper aren’t just in lock-step in their concept for the Charter and the media, […]

  • […] Actually, it’s no wonder the Harper PMO wants to keep Fantino in a box and away from the public. He has a lot to answer for. And it’s not like it’s a new strategy for the Conservatives. The Harper muzzle was out in full force in the last election, and in by-elections past. […]

  • […] all-candidates debate and was refusing to return Brennan's calls. That story led to still more blogposts accusing the former OPP Chief of hiding and campaigning like a former unsuccessful Conservative […]

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