Xtra
3 min

I get mail – err, political flyers!

Every now and again, I get political flyers in the mail – as I’m sure you all do – so I thought I’d take a look at the ones that have come recently. In the past few weeks, I’ve received two from the Liberals, and one from the NDP (who currently hold the riding). And while I used to get flyers from the Conservatives fairly frequently, I haven’t seen one in a few months now.

The first one was a Liberal flyer, courtesy of MP Bernard Patry – the Member for Pierrefonds-Dollard. (And yes, I had to look that one up, because he’s certainly not one that I remember off-hand, but that may also be because his seat in the Commons is almost directly below the Press Gallery, and I can’t really see him from that vantage). On the cover is the picture of a sweet little girl clutching a teddy bear, with the words “Would you break a promise to her?” on it (and the same again in French). Inside is a picture of another little girl – this one in pigtails, smiling and with a paintbrush in hand, and on the top it says, “Neither would we.” The text along the sidebar? About how the Liberals reached an agreement in 2005 about affordable, childcare spaces, and how the Conservatives scrapped those agreements and their own promise to create spaces.

And then my favourite part – the “feedback.” The question here – “Do you agree with the Harper Conservative government’s decision to cancel previous commitments on child care? Tick yes or no, and sent it back to Mr. Patry, care of Liberal Caucus Services. No postage required, but they have a faux stamp depicting Lester Pearson in the corner. There’s also an option to provide feedback online, and to sign-up for the Liberals’ e-newsletter.

Shortly thereafter I got a card from my local MP, Paul Dewar. Dewar wants me to know that he’s “working for you,” and he’s talking about expanding access to EI, and inviting me to “Join Paul in calling on the government to improve Employment Insurance for those affected by the economic recession.” On the reverse is a picture of Dewar in the House, and the feedback question – “Access to EI must be extended.” Wait – there’s only a box for “yes.” Um, okay. There’s a link to Dewar’s personal website, but that’s it. Also – it’s printed on thicker cardstock and not simple photocopy paper that lets me know it’s been recycled. Also interesting to note.

And then yesterday, I got another Liberal flyer, this one from Pablo Rodriguez, the party’s Heritage critic. Again, it’s a folded photocopy page, and on the front is the CBC logo in a gun sight, with the words “Endangered Species” across the top. So we know what this is about – confirmed by the interior text about how the Harper Conservatives are “choking off” the funding to the CBC, which is forced to make cuts because the Conservatives “don’t believe” in the role of a public broadcaster – while the Liberals consider it an “essential voice” for Canada.

The feedback question – “Do you trust the Harper Conservatives to maintain the role of the CBC as a voice of Canadian identity?” Vote yes or no – again with the option for online feedback, mail back care of the Liberal Caucus Services (with the Pearson faux stamp), and new to this one – an invitation to visit their website onProbation.ca – where they’re keeping an eye on the government.

On the one hand, I should point out that while Dewar’s flyer is a constituency mail out, the two Liberal ones are “ten-percenters,” which is a kind of flyer that an MP from one party can send to 10% of a riding held by another party. That means that they are less likely to be personalised, the way Dewar’s was. Now, that said, I did have a problem with the way that Dewar’s “survey” only has a box for a yes answer – implicitly stating that it’s Dewar’s way or the highway, that this is the only real position one can have. So much for politics based on discussion or a discourse of ideas.

Meanwhile, the expenses scandal in the UK has cost the British Commons their Speaker, while our Auditor General wants to take a look at the books of our own MPs and Senators. Apparently this has been in the works long before the UK scandal broke, and it’s not related. As well, one MP wants to assure us that because of the spending rules that are already in place, we couldn’t face the same kind of scandal here that they’re facing elsewhere. Good to know – but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t hurt for Sheila Fraser to still get a peek at those books. It is her job, after all.

Also, the Toronto Star's editorial board calls bullshit on Harper's EI claims in the House last week. Good to know that someone in the media is.