State Of The Propaganda War

First off: was trying to come up with another phrase to use for the ongoing kerfuffle in the Commons apart from "Constitutional Crisis." The news media seems to dub pretty much anything a crisis these days, especially when the thing in question starts with a hard k sound. We're doubly cursed this time with a constitution and a coalition involved.

Yessir, I've had enough with crises, thank you very much, so I was thinking instead of using "Constitutional Constitutional" where the second "constitutional" is used in its comic euphemistic sense -- ie., that first flushing of the day -- but realized the joke was too belaboured and will only inflict it on you, dear dog blog reader.

Anyway... seems we've moved from endless hours of commentary and analysis to a full blown propaganda war. Today was all each side dropping trow to show off the size of its protest.

Hate to say but I fear the coalition side is going to lose this big time.

And I'm not saying this because of Dion's video address screw up. Nor because of the general hippie-eat-hippie state of the left these days.

No, I'm saying this because nobody has called me up to tell me what's going on. Were it not for a mention from editor stephen and a couple missives from Larry Hubich's email list -- both sources I've access to because I'm by some accounts "press" -- I would've known nothing about the pro-coalition meeting at the UofR on thursday. Nobody from either the NDP nor the Liberals thought to call me.

Why should they have, you ask?

Well, see, back during the election I got pretty pissed about the state of communications from the progressive parties here in Palliser so I got up the gumption to phone both the liberal and ndp campaign offices and say "What's up? Nobody's come a-knockin' at my door... The mailers you've sent out are kind of crummy... Nobody's updating your Facebook sites... You throwing this election or what?"

If either of those parties were running something approximating an Obama-esque campaign, my phone number, email address and name would've been captured and put straight into a database. I'd have been filed under "C" for "Crank", sure, but the second they needed warm bodies to show up at an event like thursday's, I'd have gotten a call, an email, a knock at the door and a free ride to the auditorium. Instead, neither Mitchell nor Johnston's organizations bothered with anything like that and just kept clunking along with their pre-Web-2.0-style campaigns. (True, if either of them had been running a modern campaign i wouldn't have felt the need to phone them up in the first place. No, they'd have had canvassers at my door at some point during the campaign to ask who i was voting for and would i like to be on their email list.)

Point being, the Conservatives seem to have a much stronger organization as far as communications goes. Plus they have every talk-radio station and a few other media outlets to boot loudly promoting their anti-coalition line without even being asked. Is it any wonder polls seem to be showing the pro-coalition forces are losing this thing by a 2 to 1 margin?

The grassroots media free-for-all of the internet seems a perfect fit for progressives, but all the spiff websites and downloadable posters in the world aren't going to amount to much. A propaganda battle like this is going to be won by people skilled with Excel not Dreamweaver.

What Price Democracy?

In minimizing Harper's responsibility for precipitating this constitutional kerfuffle (is that better Paul?) Conservative supporters have argued that Opposition parties are being churlish for resisting government efforts in the current downturn to economize by cutting $30 million in spending through the elimination of the $1.95 per vote payment that each party who receives over two per cent of the popular vote in an election gets annually to pay for operating costs.

Some have even referred to the program as "political welfare".

The payments were instituted under the Federal Accountability Act that received Royal Assent in December 2006. They were part of a finance reform package that excluded unions, corporations and other groups from making contributions to political parties and candidates, and placed a cap of $1100 on the amount individual Canadians could contribute. The Act was designed to curb the type of influence peddling that is so prevalent in the U.S., where wealthy individuals, corporations and other third-party interests, through hefty contributions, reduce politicians, the supposed representatives of the people, to the status of puppets.

Yes, following the results of the last election, it would have been the Conservatives who took the biggest hit. Having garnered 5.2 million votes, they would have lost $10 million in payments. With 3.6 million votes, the Liberals would have lost $7.7 million. The NDP, with 2.5 million votes, $4.9 million. Bloq Quebecois--1.4 million votes, $2.6 million. Green Party--937,613 votes, $1.8 million.

But they're better at attracting donations from upper-income Canadians, the Conservatives would have been hit much less severely. At present, the federal funds represent only 37 per cent of Conservative revenues.

For the other parties the figures are Liberals--63 per cent; NDP-- 57 per cent; Bloc-- 86 per cent; and Greens-- 65 per cent.

Do you think Harper and Flaherty were unaware of this when they included the cut in the fiscal update? And for those who worship at the altar of the free market, keep in mind that the private contributions that the parties, particularly the Conservatives, receive, are also heavily subsidized by the public purse through the income tax credits that contributors get-- 75 per cent on the first $400, 50 per cent on the next $350 and 33.3 on the amount over $750. That translates into a subsidy of $590 on a $1100 contribution.

If we lived in a dictatorship, we wouldn't have to worry about political parties, and where they get their funds from. Judging from the events of the past two weeks, that might well appeal to some people.

Me? I'll take democracy.