Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Increasing Public Engagement

All of a sudden, early yesterday evening, a bunch of new Liberal signs went up in my white bread, exurbia, small and big C neighbourhood in Eastern Ontario, and rumour has it that a bunch of Green signs are going up today.  In the 2008 campaign, sad to say, there were only Harperite signs throughout the subdivision.  What’s gives?   Am I sensing a refreshingly new level of political engagement from ordinary Canadians, and, if so, why? Usually, if they get engaged at all, Canadians twig to what’s going on sometime after the TV debates.  So what’s brought about this apparent early interest?

Four main  reasons:
First off, users statistics suggest that many more ordinary Canadians of all ages, not just the younger demographic, have become involved in social media:  Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Blogs in particular, and many more media outlets, journalists, and politicians themselves have become actively involved.  Andrew Coyne, the “Kady,” and Tony Clement come to mind immediately.

Second, Elizabeth May’s unjustified and undemocratic exclusion from the TV debates has awakened the interest of the public. And the court decision yesterday with its revelation from the Consortium’s lawyer that the other leaders might not show up for the debate if May were to be allowed in just pours more oil on the fire.  She has had considerable media exposure over the issue, and poll after poll has revealed that the vast majority of Canadians across the whole country thinks she has been mistreated.  This is unequivocally giving the Greens a very good bump.

Third, the increasing alienation and frustration of  the press by the Harperites is certainly a factor.  Reporter after reporter is continually lamenting their handling by the Harperite regime and the lack of access to the PM, and in such reporters as Robert Fyfe, Mark Kennedy, Roger  Smith, Terry Molewski, and Jeffrey Simpson the frustration is palpable.   These emotions, unconsciously and sometimes consciously, seep into their reporting.  Most if not all of both Power Politics and Powerplay yesterday were devoted to negative stories about the Harperites.

Fourth, of course is the bad behaviour of the Harperites themselves and, in particular, Harper’s pass-the-buck answers on the Carson affair and the control-freak dismissal of  a war-vet in Halifax, two young women in London, and a get-the-vote-out group of students in the Kitchener-Guelph area.  Such behaviour is suggesting to both the public and the media that this man and his party really don’t want to hear from Canadians about anything and that their  sole agenda is the regaining of power, this time with a majority.

The rest of the campaign is indeed going to be interesting.


  1. Add Lawrence Martin to the list of journalists above: "If information is the lifeblood of democracy, democracy is on life support in Ottawa."

  2. I gues o' hair-in-the-fridge has learned nothing.

    "Joanna MacDonald...says she pre-registered for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's election campaign rally at the University of Guelph on Monday April 5, 2011, but was barred from the event."

  3. Add John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail big time to the list. His piece in La Presse confirms my argument above. "Detest," As John himself siad today on Question Period, even though it may be true, is not a rhetorically sophisticated way in which to suggest the obvious alienation many in the press gallery feel. As John says, the Harperites themselves have brought this attitude on.