Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Son of Sponsorship?

Conservatives love to talk about “adscam.” A decade old, the scandal may be, but it’s fresh in the minds of anger-addled Cons who just can’t think of much else to say when the heat’s on them.

So to learn that Harper spent $130 million on advertising in 2009-2010, a 64% increase on the year before – how might the grassroots react?

Of the $130 million, more than a third was spent on Economic Action Plan signs and billboards (unsurprisingly), some of which were erected literally in the middle of nowhere. Moreover, economic stimulus is reported to have been denied to communities or groups which refused to erect these signs.

For now, it’s just one more example of CPC partisan vanity, of mismatching the priorities of government writ large, and of the Conservative Party itself. Another big example in the long list of superfluous, profligate, and frivolous spending items by a government with its roots, purportedly, in fiscal conservatism.

But for this proto-scandal to really erupt into something full-blown, I await news about who builds the Action Plan signs and hoardings. Hum. Perchance there are a Conservative Party donor or two involved? “Son of Sponsorship”?

Ignatieff and Layton – don’t let this stuff slip! Harper is gifting you with the hammers with which to beat him.

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Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , , , ,

Can’t buy me truth

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything – sorry! If only I had a communications budget, I could satisfy myself with doing this full-time.

Why, coincidentally, a communications budget is just what this is about! Stephen Harper, despite a famous disdain and disregard for facing the press himself, puts a lot of stock in managing the message. He’s spent money designing websites which do nothing but crudely mock his opponents. He’s got spooks trawling newspaper comment boards, paid to post loyal partisan garbage and to cheerlead any and every boneheaded policy the Prime Minister’s introduced. All of that costs cash.

How much is it worth to our *throat clearing noise* fiscally conservative PM? Nearly $10 million. That’s a $1 million budget hike from the previous year.

What the media can’t be trusted to deduce on their own, they must be force-fed, I suppose is the Harperian logic here. That as well as the full knowledge that his party is really a sprawling motley crew of far-right Reformers who don’t believe in evolution, along with occasional red/centre Tories – with such profound potential for internal strife and contradiction, this PM has been very clear he’ll wield an iron-clad and incredibly well-resourced communications machine to present the Conservative Party as something unified, accountable, and moderate – and to do that primarily, of course, by obsessively demonising the Liberals.

Prime Minister’s Office communications budgets, though, are drawn from public funds. The PMO is not meant to be a giant clunking arm of the ruling party, with its associated propaganda. Drawing $10 million from public coffers for partisan purposes seems, to me, like something that ought to outrage actual fiscal conservatives out there, who supposedly supported Harper once upon a time because he seemed genuine in his small-state convictions and his accountability mantra. What conservative voters have got, though, is a spendthrift who’s plunged the Canadian economy from longstanding surplus to a $50 billion (and counting) deficit, and now spends even more to better manage the message.

But, oh, can we blame them. Brain transplants are expensive, and surely that’s going to be a line item in the new comms budget, what with Stockwell Day talking in public! According to Day, we need to build more prisons because, while violent crime rates are going down, 2004 StatsCan figures indicate that unreported crime (though non-violent) is going up. He also suggests that StatsCan data is unreliable and outdated, which is why they’re scrappnig the mandatory long form.

Having your cake and eating it too, are you? Or just smearing it all over your face?

The reporters at this press conference are brilliant. “You’re not making sense,” says one. Suppose there’s no clearer rationale for a $10 million communications budget than this.

But, back to a point raised earlier in the post. Harper’s monitoring of online chat and comment boards. It comes as little surprise to me, as someone who spends some time on the Globe and Mail boards – the excruciatingly high volume of redundant partisan noise coming from the Blue Tribe just doesn’t jive with the lacklustre 30% polling that the Tories manage nationwide.

If only the government could pay them to think, too. Unfortunately for them, hiring trolls to cheerlead Harper as “best PM ever!!!” and to parrot anti-Liberal talking points doesn’t really fool anyone. It only raises eyebrows and turns middle-of-the-road voters off from the barking nutbar crowd in Harper’s employ.

Oh well, what’s another bullet in the foot, eh Steve?

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , , , ,

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