Liberal candidate of record is a Conservative on the books

Meet Louise Boulanger, the Liberal candidate for the Quebec by-election in the riding of Roberval–Lac-St-Jean.


Here is a picture of Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the Conservative federal government’s minister of labour:


Here is a picture of Denis Lebel, the Conservative candidate for the same by-election for the riding of Roberval–Lac-St-Jean:


Here is a picture of Louise Boulanger, Denis Lebel, and Jean-Pierre Blackburn from the photo gallery of Denis Lebel’s website.


The photo shows Lebel and Boulanger embracing with Blackburn in the foreground. Nothing too out of the ordinary, no?

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly exchange between Conservative and a Liberal, of course. However, Boulanger is actually a Conservative Party member as suggested by the cover of La Presse this morning which contains the headline “ELECTION PARTIELLE: Louise Belanger, la candidate libéale dans Roberval est membre en règle du Parti… conservateur (By-election: Louise Belanger, the Liberal candidate in Roberval is technically a member of the Conservative Party)”

If true, Boulanger would have signed a form that includes the statement that she “actively support[s] the founding principles of the CPC” which are listed here.

However, Stephane Dion later “nominated” Boulanger to contest the riding of Roberval–Lac-St-Jean for the upcoming by-election, as a Liberal!.

Consider this quote from Boulanger concerning the Liberal Party having its affairs in order:

Je suis contente d’arriver à ce moment-ci parce que le ménage a été fait. Le parti est plus rigoureux sur la sélection des candidats. Notre chef Stéphane Dion est exigeant envers lui-même et exigeant envers les autres. Il désire s’entourer de gens fonceurs. Le Parti libeacute;ral est à son meilleur pour servir la population

(I am happy to have come to this moment here because the cleanup has been done. The party is more rigorous in the selection of candidates. Our leader Stephane Dion is demanding of himself and of others. He wants to be surrounded by go-getters. The Liberal Party is at its best to serve the population.)

If Boulanger is a member of the Conservative Party, that rigorous selection process must be in need of review.

Does the Liberal Party Constitution forbid members of other parties from contesting elections for the Liberal Party?

Republican story from ’72

Take a look at the following video from CBS’ evening news from 1972. There should be a few interesting elements for any viewer, no matter their political leanings.

First, we notice that the topic of election strategy has always been good fodder for news reporters. Often, the horse race and how it’s run can be more compelling than the policies or platforms forwarded by the candidates.

Of course, there is also the gem of a Dan Rather piece from 1972. Rather’s thesis on the Republicans this time? That they’ve set up a front operation for show. The purpose? To demonstrate that Nixon isn’t running too hard for re-election. Possible, I suppose. After all, news media was hardly as ubiquitous in those days and perhaps such deliberate steps were taken to fool Rather. But, thankfully, he’s not fooled.

Next, at the RNC, envelope cutters are opening cheques from a quarter of a million people for $2.5 million. The ‘grassroots’ ma ‘n pa cheques that come in is a strategy employed by today’s Conservative Party in Canada. The direct mail lists and personal greetings customized by computer based on issue is interesting and it’s fascinating to know the sophistication of the operation involving these tools back to 1972. Some American politicians still bank heavily on direct mail appeals. Once, when describing blogging to a senior republican, I told him it was like the next version of direct mail. Thankfully, he didn’t press me further on the comparison, but I felt that the generational analogy was cogent enough, if on some levels not at all.

Next, in the report we see, by today’s standards, laughable privacy concerns which may well have enraged people watching Rather back in ’72. A ‘computer’ stores the names of mail-order Idaho steak customers? Most definitely a frightful thought to more than a few back in the early 70s.

Robert Odell Jr. is interviewed and describes these methods as the way of the future for campaign finance, and while we can forgive him for not foreseeing the netroots appeals of Howard Dean and those that would follow in the use of blogs and social media in this first decade of the 21st century, Odell could be a certified futurist.

We then see an obligatory note to show that the broad ma ‘n pa appeal isn’t exactly perfect yet as ‘fat cats’ still pay hundreds of dollars for Nixon fundraising dinners.

And then those that went home early will be sorely disappointed as we see a chance interview between Dan Rather and a 21-year old Karl Rove who holds up a bumper sticker for the GOP reading Generation of Peace. At the time of the interview, Rove was charged with “embarrassing pundits” and to help the Republican Party appeal to youth. It’s interesting to see how small a family of political operatives can exist, even in countries like the US.

All in all, a fascinating story about the ‘future’ of political financing from direct mail, to personalized letters aimed at specific constituents based on targeted issues. One wonders how the current cutting-edge methods of voter identification, fundraising and media balancing will be viewed 35 years from now.

CBC’s ‘B Team’

Many months after the this unfortunate report from CBC concerning the Prime Minister’s caucus retreat in Cornwall, Ontario last August, I had the random chance of sitting down and have a couple of drinks with a senior CBC staffer. Introducing myself and expecting to duck soon after, the nice fellow instead recalled my involvement in the aforementioned report and ombudsman review that followed and we had a friendly and quite forthright conversation about blogging, the national broadcaster, and what exactly was it that happened that could have led to such a botched report. Of course, regarding the CBC, conservatives describe the personal and institutional biases of the state-run broadcaster against the Tories. While at times conservatives have a case, other times a number of other factors may be at play.

Nobody is entirely sure exactly what went wrong in that report whether it was unconscious (or potentially conscious) bias on behalf of the reporter, rushed and sloppy production/reporting or even institutional bias of the broadcaster to be blind to such an error through the various levels of approval before the piece went to air. In fact, it could be one or more of the above.

In my friendly discussion with the senior CBC staffer, he didn’t discount bias but he did seemed to mention poor standards when he described the CBC phenomena of the ‘B team’ that tends to work in the last couple of months of summer.

I had forgotten about our discussion until I read a post today by Ouimet at The Tea Makers blog. Tea Makers is a blog written anonymously by a CBC insider and often offers internal criticism of the institution. Here’s an excerpt of the post:

Have you ever watched CBC-TV and said to yourself “WTF?”

Or listened to CBC Radio. Or watched CBC Newsworld. Next time it happens look at the calendar and you’ll find that it’s July or August. Probably August.

Because the summertime is when the A-Team takes a much-needed vacation and leaves the reigns to the B-Team, a rag-tag band of not ready for prime-timers who finally get their chance to be in charge. This happens from the top down, from the “on-air personalities” to the lady who doles out the money through the petty cash wicket.

In fact, some of your favourite CBC stars go on UI in the summertime, waiting for their shows to be renewed. It’s true!

So, the ‘B team’ phenomenon is actually part of the common lexicon at the CBC. Should it be an excuse for the sub-standard quality of broadcasting?

As for the caucus report last August, was it a matter of poor standards in reporting and/or production? Using Windows Movie Maker and Youtube, I was able to cut a more accurate representation of what went on in a few hours and I wasn’t even in Cornwall. So was it various levels of bias, the B-team, or both?

Whatever the reason, let’s continue to insist that the CBC sorts it out and raises its game.