Musings —09.22.2011 01:57 PM—
Christina Blizzard is a columnist for the Sun. She’s pretty pro-Conservative – I can’t recall her ever writing anything that isn’t – but I like her. She’s a good person, albeit a bit politically misguided.
This afternoon, she sent me an email. Here’s what she said: “I have received a copy of a presentation you have been giving to unions about elections. At the end of it, you advise union members not to just take a lawn sign, but to get involved and “buy an ad.” I am wondering if it is appropriate for someone who is a senior member of the Liberal campaign team to be advising third parties to do this during the election campaign.”
That was kind of…snarky, and erroneous, too. In June, I was invited to speak one union, Local 46, the plumber’s union. The three-hour presentation I gave to them didn’t simply say “buy an ad.” The folks who asked me to speak wanted to avoid vote-splitting that might lead to another Harris-style government under Tim Hudak. I spoke to about 200 members, who were described to me as members of all of the political parties – Liberals, New Democrats and Conservatives. It was a great session, and any member could attend. Some folks agreed with me, some didn’t. But it was fun.
So I responded to Chris: “You’d have to send it to me, my friend. But, before you do that, are you saying that unions should be prohibited from advertising?”
She didn’t answer that. I did, however, get the deck – which I surmise had been given to Chris by PCs, who are in a free-fall in urban centres, and are starting to full-on panic. Here’s what she wrote: “[Your] exhortation to buy ads and get politically active is on page 26. It also makes reference to the “Not this time” advertising campaign targeting Ernie Eves. I am wondering what Elections Ontario would have to say about the connection between you in your position with the Liberal campaign exhorting a union to engage in third party advertising during a campaign.”
That, too, was a bit snarky, given that we are supposed to be colleagues and all that. But, whatever. She’s big on the Conservatives, and I understand that. I also didn’t like the insinuation that what I’d said in my presentation was against the law, but again – whatever. She has a job to do.
So here’s what I wrote back: “Chris: I was asked by the union to come and speak to them before the election about how to avoid a Hudak-PC government. I spoke to about 200 people, and they were introduced to me as members of all of the political parties. I encouraged them to get involved in the democratic process in any way they could. One way they could do that is to advertise, and to of course ensure that they followed all of the Elections Ontario rules. To my knowledge, they have done no advertising at all. Since you obviously intend to write about this, I will place the deck on my web site along with your emails. I prefer to have these discussions out in the open, so there can be no confusion about what was said. Have a great day.”
And, as promised, here’s the deck, every word of it. If you feel like Chris apparently does – that I urged the union to break the law – I encourage you to promptly lodge a complaint about me with Elections Ontario. Here’s their email, to save you some time: email@example.com. Good luck.
Oh, and Chris? Like I say: the group I spoke to hasn’t produced any advertising I am aware of – unlike some groups closely connected to Tim Hudak’s PCs.
I look forward to you writing about that, too.