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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mock the vote

The CBC reports on young people who won't cast ballots opening with the following:

University of Toronto linguistics student Filip Tisma voted in the last federal election, but has no intention of casting a ballot this time.

"I'd rather just not vote and send a message that way that I'm unpleased with how the voting system is turning out in this country," said Tisma, 22.
Bad news, Filip - the few people who notice you missing from the polls on May 2 will assume you're just another disengaged twenty-something among legion. Political parties will continue to prefer the issues of concern to older voters, safe in the knowledge that post-secondary funding and addressing youth unemployment are not vote winners. The more Filips out there who are not casting ballots, the more the choice falls to people like me - married white men in our forties and in comfortable financial circumstances. More power to me! Nuts and gum, together at last!

(Filip seems to be complaining about the system - the constituency-based first-past-the-post system. No doubt advocates of proportional representation will use the low turnout and quotes like this as evidence of the need for change. I'll save my own thoughts on that for another post, but in this case I think Filip might be making an excuse.)

Helping to discourage young voter engagement is the Conservative Party of Canada, screening event attendees for radical affiliations, like being a Liberal. I'm certain the Conservative Party will say that they're only trying to avoid hecklers, or people who would make a scene. And why not? That's for CPC MPs themselves to do.

I've been asked if kicking people out of their events is a gaffe by the Conservatives for scoring purposes. I think the only gaffe is that they got caught. It's unbelievably stupid, and I hope it continues to blow up in their faces, but keeping the crowds friendly through screening was premeditated as part of their communications strategy, and therefore not a gaffe.

FWIW, QOTD goes to Michael Ignatieff: "We are in a very bad place when you have got a prime minister who does a background check on his audience at a democratic crowd and doesn't seem to do a background check on the people he hires in his Prime Minister's Office, like Mr. Carson." FTW.


Ted Betts said...

The students weren't screened, precisely, they were kicked out after being admitted. One got in because her dad is a Conservative supporter and the other claims to have a Conservative sign on his lawn.

At any rate, Dmitri Soudas has apologized for kicking them out and said he will arrange for a personal meeting. So the prominence factor has gone up and " apologies are usually deciders for me".

Unknown said...

Much like the one-on-one debate flipflop and the Carson criminal background issue, these rally evictions are generating a lot of negative campaign headlines for the Conservatives. But if you intentionally do things that are unpopular, it's hard to call them gaffes.

Don said...

I'm holding my decision, and Jaker says it perfectly - intentionally doing something unpopular isn't a gaffe. They didn't accidentally kick any of these people out. They didn't accidentally stumble over Ms Aslam's Facebook page. This is a communications strategy, to make sure the Prime Minister never encounters anyone who isn't a supporter. I think it's telling that they haven't suggested they'll stop with the pre-registrations and screenings. They only seem apologetic that they caught someone outspoken in their net, and for the wrong reasons.