Monday, September 20, 2010

Bad Focus, A Leading Question and Wedge Politics

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, today's the day our gummint goes back to work after another 13 week vacation. While the MPs were away from the House, "a total of $14 billion (has) been added to our national debt." Every poll in the past year or more has indicated that the biggest concern for Canadians is the economy. Yet, our spendthrift Conservative government is in full drunken sailor mode. $16 billion for new, unneeded F-35 stealth fighter jets. $6 billion for new prison cells to house unconvicted criminals who have committed unreported crimes. More than a billion on security for a few hours of face time with fellow promise breakers at the G8/G20. $35 billion for new ships.

Not only is our government preaching austerity while spending money at an unprecedented rate, it is spending most of its time and energy dealing with an issue that's barely a blip on the radar of public concern. The long gun registry is a pet issue for a few NRA types who make loud noises (like their guns) and have hijacked -- with the help of Harper's MPs -- the public agenda. While all hands need to be on the economy deck, the fight being waged is one of wedge politics where the ruling party is attempting to divide Canadians along rural-urban boundaries.

Here's the way my own MP, Diane Finley, is wasting her time and money. Remember, we the people are Diane's employers. When she wastes her time and money, she's actually wasting our time and money. Here's what Diane sent out to her constituents last week.

Notice how Diane says she has her mind made up and she will vote to repeal the registry. Then, she says she needs my support and help and I should get in touch. What help can I give? I can't vote in the Commons. She's the only one from Haldimand-Norfolk who can vote and she's already decided how.

She wants people to answer her question and send back their Yes or No response to her question: "Do you support getting rid of the wasteful and ineffective gun registry?" No need to worry about postage, registry opponents. Diane, or rather the taxpayer, has that covered.

Nothing leading about that question, is there? Who would answer "No, I don't support getting rid of something that's wasteful and ineffective"?

When a handful registry opponents take the time to respond with their meaningless Yes answers, Diane can then tell the media or anyone who asks that the bulk of the mail she's received supports killing the registry.

The big problem with trying to create a rural-urban rift is that so-called rural ridings are not entirely rural. Haldimand-Norfolk is comprised a several small towns, ranging in population from about 15,000 to a couple thousand. The residents of those towns are hardly all farmers or hunters. The farmers in the rural riding are, in reality, a small minority. Most voters in my rural riding live in town. I suspect there may be proportionally a few more hunters in small towns than in Toronto but most small town residents are neither hunters nor gun owners.

The tactic of dividing Canadians into Toronto and Montreal versus rural Canada will fail simply because politicians like Diane Finley do not really know what their constituents want. They will never know as long as they ask leading questions for which there is only one acceptable answer.


Dennis Buchanan said...

Fourteen billion in thirteen weeks? Good thing they were on vacation. Who knows how much more they would have spent had they been there.

And I think the kicker on Finley's campaign is that she's now toting a 90% yes result as being "remarkable", when the wording of the poll clearly says to the effect of 'please vote Yes and send it back to me, and if you vote No I'll ignore you anyways.'

The Harper government: Redefining statistical validity since 2006.


JimBobby said...

Sheesh! Too bad the Reformer doesn't call Diane on this sorta crappola. The response was entirely predictable, given the wording of the questionnaire.

Diane has now harvested a few more targets for the next CPC fundraising campaign... all at public expense, too.