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Hello, media response team! Hello? Helloooo?


 

This is fun.

This morning I posted this post on Elizabeth May’s interview with Louis-Gilles Francoeur at Le Devoir. I figured the Green Party might not be delighted.

And indeed it was so. At 12:04 p.m., Camille Labchuk at the Green Party HQ sent this email out to some number of Green Party members and supporters:

Hello Media Response Team,

Elizabeth May and deputy leader Claude William Genest did an interview
with Quebec paper Le Devoir yesterday and the piece appears in Le
Devoir today. Maclean’s magazine writer Paul Wells has posted a blog
in response to some comments she made in this article
http://blog.macleans.ca/2008/05/14/buzz-may/#comments

It is quite negative in tone. I’m hoping that some of you will take
the time to read his blog and post comments to refute his premise that
seeking to cooperate with other parties and prevent another Harper
government is a bad idea.

Some points to consider:

-The idea of inter-party cooperation was widely discussed and debated
in the leadership campaign and Elizabeth May’s views were widely
known. She overwhelmingly won that campaign and since that time has
managed to triple Green Party support in national polls.

-He says we will need all the luck we can get in the next election.
You might wish to point out that under Elizabeth May, the Green Party
has tripled its support since the last election and is posed to elect
MPs in the election. We are the only party that has gained momentum
since the last election.

-In the only electoral tests we have had between elections, Greens
have done well. Elizabeth May finished a close second in the London
North Centre by-election and in the March by-elections, Green
candidates dramatically increased support in BC, Sask and Ontario,
coming in ahead of the Conservatives and NDP in certain ridings.
Provincially, Green Parties have been tested in most provinces in the
last year and have increased support each time.

-Re: Ralph Nader. Elizabeth does NOT state that the only way to avoid
splitting the vote is to pull out of tight races. She has always been
clear that for democracy to work, voters must be educated and aware of
all facts about each electoral option. This is why it was dangerous
that the NDP focused on the Liberals in the last election and did not
highlight the threat of the Conservative party.

-Mr. Wells’ commentary brings us back to the fundamental truth that
our electoral system is broken. It fails to encourage cooperation
among parties and instead leads to bitter rivalries. It fails to
return governments that reflect the choices of voters (i.e., only 36%
of Canadians voted for Harper. The rest voted for parties who support
action on climate change yet we are left with Harper’s regressive
policies.)

Thank you for your help. Please let me know if you have any questions
or concerns.

Camille

I know this happened because two of the recipients forwarded the talking points to me as soon as they got them.

And then nothing happened.

For quite a while, nobody bothered to use the Greens’ talking points as the basis for a rebuttal of my argument from this morning, which is that on the plain face of it, Elizabeth May is arguing that no party has the right to hurt the Liberals’ chances of replacing the Tories as the next government.

Finally, three and a half hours after the Greens launched their rapid-response effort, Jim Elve posted a reply. It admirably encapsulates and rephrases the arguments in Labchuk’s talking-points email. Excellent work, Jim!

So far, he’s all alone. If anyone else wants to post in response to my original post, you now have your talking points. And you should not worry about having to wait in line, because it’s actually kind of lonely out here for defenders of Elizabeth May’s strategic sense.


 

Hello, media response team! Hello? Helloooo?

  1. So, what effect were the Greens hoping to have by making their legions of followers comment this blog into oblivion? Were they expecting Paul Wells, respected nationally-syndicated journalist, to sit back in his chair and say “you know, all these comments about the Greens tripling their support and how Harper must go at all electoral costs really makes a good point. I totally didn’t get it the first five times I read it but it sure looks good with repetition. Thanks, a bunch of guys saying the exact same things in my comments!”

    Actually, I hope they were thinking that. It probably says something about the Green Party far more effective than a thousand parroted press releases could have.

  2. Sorry, I couldn’t respond more quickly. I’ll try to do better next time.

    Yes, Paul, political parties try to get their message out. Is that something new? Is it only the GPC that tries to dispel myths or do other parties call on their members to respond to negative items in national media? Ever take a browse through the G&M comments sections? From what I hear, the CPC pays trolls to clutter the discussions with cheerleading. Maybe paid CPC blogger Steven Taylor could enlighten us.

    Anyway, nobody is paying me to support the GPC or Elizabeth May. I just happen to feel strongly that this is the best party for those who are environmentally aware and concerned. I’m a GPC member and riding exec. I think we may elect a GPC member in my riding to replace Diane Finley.
    http://www.hngreens.ca

    Jim Elve

  3. I completely disagree with the erroneus statement that our government is broken. It is quite the reverse as it is functioning very well and performing exactly as designed. After all being a Conservative I am very happy about our leaders ability to neutralize the opposition and get our agenda through for Canadians. Now if the author who actually sounds almost resentful that there is a Conservative Gov’t (which I think is the real issue here) would at least try not to be so partisan there might be more real information to be of use. I think that this is indicative of a wider issue I have noticed and that is that the media reporting is becoming more and more like punditry rather than reporting news. The spin nowadays by the mostly left wing media is almost stretching credibility to the breaking point. Then again they are only shooting themselves in the proverbial foot since people are tuning out the message as can be told by the recent numbers in satsfaction with the gov’t in general recently.

  4. I helped out with Elizabeth’s byelection campaign in London North Centre so I’m always floored when Green Party members and officials make comments about how we almost or came “a close second”. It was a distant second – 9% points behind first and only 1% from third.

    I don’t know if I agree with Elizabeth’s proposal. But I don’t think it would devastate the party’s chances of winning seats. It could be useful out west in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But it would be demoralizing for the green party volunteers working hard in ridings where Elizabeth endorses the Liberal candidate.

  5. Lots of parties use assorted tricks to get their message out, as Jim says. Here’s me busting one of them:

    http://blog.macleans.ca/2008/05/08/we-get-email/

    It’s a Brechtian, fourth-wall thing we like to do here sometimes at Inkless.

    The fun is not that the Greens sent out talking points, it’s that they sent them out into what seems a not entirely hospitable environment. If I were Camille, I’d be wondering who was sending Wells the talking points instead of posting the talking points on Wells’s blog.

  6. I think Wayne is one of those paid-by-the-CPC-to-cheerlead people mentioned by Lord Bob. After all, who but a paid shill actually says things like “get our message out”?

    And he is channeling Kenny/Poilievre over on Kady’s blog . . .

  7. Have you considered the possibility that nobody cares what you wrote? I’m not saying I disagree with your thesis, just your self proclaimed relevance.

  8. I’m quite certain nobody cares what I write, which makes my traffic stats a little hard to understand. I presume they just slipped while they were looking for ITQ.

  9. If I were Camille, I’d be wondering who was sending Wells the talking points instead of posting the talking points on Wells’s blog.

    You mean you’re not going to tell? ;)

    FWIW, this was a first time thing. I’ve never received a talking points memo like this before and when I got it I suspected it would get leaked. The talking points stand, nonetheless.

    And, you’re right, Paul. It is fun. Now, about those blabbermouths…

  10. Actually Mike, I’d suggest that given a blog post by Paul can trigger a response from a “national” party (and not to mention, you know, his column in a rather major news magazine), his relevance is a little more than “self proclaimed.”

  11. As a federal Liberal supporter, I’m not completely aghast by May’s proposal; and it does seem like a refreshing approach to cut through what many see as a cynical, self-serving cycle that all other political parties (mine included) seem trapped in. And its only fair to say the media is also trapped, often, in that spin.
    However, the experience of working on unsuccessful, and even sacrificed, election campaigns puts me in agreement somewhat with Peter. Nothing can dampen electoral participation than the diminishment of ideals.
    On that note, over to the pandering-to-the-disgruntled NdPers…

  12. Ok, it’s more than self proclaimed. And, to be fair, I am a reader.

    But, if the influence is that immense, then why the need to state it? Or reference visit stats? A little humility can go a long way, sometimes.

  13. As of the last election, though, the talking points guys only hit every eighteen hours, so this is big news for the Greens.

  14. Actually, the talking points DON’T stand. To suggest Green support has gone up because of Elizabeth May is like saying the Leafs sellout games because of Richard Peddie. Green support has gone up because the environment is now a front-and-center issue, it’s that simple. If anything, May’s bizarre infatuation with getting the Liberals elected is a lead balloon on her party…

  15. Ok, do people not understand what Wells is trying to say here?

    He writes a post that the Green’s don’t like. Then the Green Machine sends out an email to the masses with talking points and DIRECTS its readers to this site in order to defend the Greens.

    Then….. NOTHING happens! Imagine a General ordering his troops to show up for battle and NOBODY arrives! It’s hilarious. What’s worse, is that two of your troops thought it was such a funny proposal that they forwarded the battle plans to the opposing side!

    So all this talk about triple-support and blah blah blah – whether or not anyone cares about Wells’ opinion and such. It’s all irrelevant. The point is a call-to-battle was made and was left unanswered.

    Once again people misunderstand the strategic genius that is Paul Wells.

  16. Ms. Labchuk contends that the Greens “are the only party that has gained momentum
    since the last election.”

    Since the last election, the Conservatives won a Bloc seat in Quebec and a Liberal seat in Saskatchewan. They also swapped Garth Turner for David Emerson and a Wajid Khan to be named later. Does that count as momentum?

    Since the last election, the NDP won a Liberal seat in Quebec. Does that count as momentum?

  17. Yes our system of government is broken: In 1988 a large majority voted against “free trade” – it was thee major issue of the campaign – and look what we got. In 2006 a majority of Canadians voted for center and center left parties. We got a virtual-majority gov’t (as it has worked out) that received what 36% of the vote.

    This FPTP (first past the post) system we have necessitates some form of election time cooperation. Hey McKenzie King pulled it off to rid us of the same pestilent-type gov’t by cooperating with the Progressive Party – so there is a good precedent.

    A rational gov’t would implement some form of proportional representation (BC’s STV is likely the best). Then we could compete like hell at election time, each faction grinding their own ax, attracting their own support – and have majority governments or stable coalitions (or even unstable ones- heck Italy is doing OK) that can cooperate in Parliament.

    But first lets get rid of the Harper gang.
    Heck we could pick 50 ridings across the country and leave lots open to full slates of candidates.

  18. “On that note, over to the pandering-to-the-disgruntled NdPers…”

    Heh. I’m an NDPer, and I’ll freely admit that if not actually DISgruntled, I’m certainly far from being gruntled.

  19. Ha, I find this whole thing rather amusing and a little confusing. First the amusing — is it actually expected that people are going to reply in to a Macleans blog of all things in 30 minutes or less?? I’m very sorry, dear Paul, for the untimely fashion of the replies, but maybe I am out of sync with information super highway…or perhaps people have better things to do…

    Confusing — is the idea of cooperative politics really that extreme of a concept?

  20. “And then nothing happened.

    For quite a while, nobody bothered ”

    Not everyone has a Crackberry and responds to email the next hour. Talking points are only vile, when they aren’t true. Obviously, most if not all of those ones are.

  21. Saskboy says: “Obviously, most if not all of those ones [talking points] are [true].”

    Knowing how E May operates, I would bet that she either wrote the response Camille Labchuk sent out, or certainly reviewed it ahead of time.

    In the first point Labchuk [May] states: “-The idea of inter-party cooperation was widely discussed and debated in the leadership campaign and Elizabeth May’s views were widely
    known.”

    I followed the leadership race closely and I recall May being asked pointedly whether she would run candidates in EVERY (308) riding and she confirmed she would.

    So, I’m not sure I agree with your assessment that this talking point is true – misleading at best.

  22. If E May is truly concerned about the environment, her secondary support should be going to the NDP instead of the Liberals. The NDP has a stronger record/platform on the environment than any of the Federal parties. The existence of the Green Party in itself is detrimental to the environment because it divides the environmental vote.

  23. instead of filling blogs with talking points, I think Elizabeth should be filling her activists with door-knocking scripts. These types of comments have an audience solely among politicos, instead of amongst people who might not care all that much about Elizabeth’s partnership and endorsement of the Liberals.

    The Greens, to be taken seriously, should be campaigning to dispell the notion that they are a one trick pony on the environment. Yes, folks, there are more issues that you could talk about. Average voters probably would be encouraged, if you truly do want things done differently, for you to be educated on more issues.

    Otherwise, what use is there to convince politicos of any new plan when they are merely following other political party tactics of clouding discussion with partisan rhetoric?

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