Five years of StephenTaylor.ca

It was five years ago today that I started this blog.  I started writing on this site as a tool to compliment my nomination campaign in Kingston prior to the 2004 general election.  I wasn’t successful in that nomination campaign as my blog at the time was read by a handful of people nationally rather than a handful of people locally.  But really, nominations are won by signing up new members and turning them out to the meeting.  Who knew? Oh, the things I’ve learned in the last five years!

This blog grew from that nomination battle to cover the Conservative leadership race, to three general elections, a number of by-elections and all of the drama in between.  Political blogging was a relatively new phenomenon five years ago and I was lucky to be an early adopter of a medium that would become useful in the 2006 election and a misplaced media obsession in 2008.  In late 2004, I put together a site called Blogging Tories that brought together like-minded bloggers to form a community around right-of-centre politics.  I remember that the earliest version of the blogroll had only five blogs on it! Now the blogroll spans 300 members and is read by tens of thousands of people daily.

As the practice of self-publishing continues and evolves into new formats beyond the blog into micro-blogging formats such as twitter, more people will become involved in the national political conversation.  Blogging has also evolved on different platforms such as Facebook with Facebook Notes and micro-blogging with Facebook status updates.  Politics is a social and new media has created the potential for the dialogue between political practitioners and political stakeholders to become a real two-way conversation rather than a disjointed series of action and reaction separated by long periods of time spanning from days to weeks.

I’ve enjoyed blogging as it provides an outlet for my views and lets me connect with Canadians who either share or don’t share my perspective.  I’ve met a lot of interesting people online and offline as a result of this blog and I’ve found that most have been sincere and genuine in their respective views on how to make Canada a better place for Canadians, no matter their prescription for that outcome.

I look forward to continuing our conversation.

Turnergate synopsis

It all started quite innocently enough. CPAC, the Canadian parliamentary channel which provides an incredible service to Canadians by providing a unbiased tracking of politicians on the campaign trail, was trailing Progressive Conservative-turned-broadcaster-turned-Conservative-turned-Independent-turned-Green tease-turned-Liberal MP Garth Turner door-to-door as part of a hustings profile they were making for the riding of Halton.

As I’ve alluded above, Turner is a controversial figure who has been forced to shop around for a party that would take him after – the governing Conservatives allege – he violated caucus confidentiality by posting private discussions on his blog. There is no doubt that Turner and his Halton seat are being specially targeted for re-capture by the Tories.

As part of the CPAC profile, reporter Martin Stringer followed Turner door-to-door to get a snapshot of the typical candidate experience. The report was produced, taped, cut and aired on CPAC a short while later. As it aired, conservative blogger Matt McGuire snipped the video from CPAC showing Turner trying to sell Dion’s Green Shift to a constituent. McGuire wanted to make the point that Turner lacked confidence in pushing the plan.

An eagle-eyed viewer of this video noticed something else, however. The random constituent that Turner was door-knocking was the son of Esther Shaye, Garth Turner’s right hand and current campaign manager. The viewer emailed popular Conservative blogger Steve Janke and Janke got to work.

This caused quite a stir in the blogosphere and enraged the good people of CPAC. This supposed random door-knocker was the “last person” CPAC wanted to film because they wanted to show a typical constituent, not someone with a direct or indirect involvement with the campaign. CPAC’s reputation was on the line. The cable network prides itself on telling the story as straight as it can and here was this photo-op that it presented as non-staged. Looking for answers, CPAC’s anchor Peter van Dusen caught up with Turner on the phone while he was campaigning and pressed him to explain himself and why his campaign set up CPAC.  Turner was taken by surprise and squirmed during the call as he was prompted to explain why his campaign offered a family member rather than a random sample for CPAC to film.

CBC reporter Susan Ormiston is tracking how the internet is shaping this election campaign and to her this story had relevance since Steve Janke busted Turner’s campaign.  Ormiston produced a story for The National and, to her credit, provided some balance not immediately apparent in the Conservative blogosphere: the Halton Conservative candidate took CPAC to a friend’s store.  As Garth Turner tried to explain himself on his blog he lashed out at Ormiston and the process by which she took to produce the story.  Ormiston hit back at Turner expressing that his accounting of the story’s production wasn’t accurate.

This story, of course, goes to credibility.  In the age of the blogosphere and pushback on unfair reporting, the mainstream media is now very sensitive to demands that their reports are unbiased and fair.  CPAC alleges that Turner manipulated what was supposed to be a typical day in the life of a candidate.  CBC alleges that Turner’s accounting of their process was untruthful.  If nothing else, this shows the MSM’s intent on showing their effort to fulfill their new contract the blogosphere to go that extra step to report accurately.  However, as far as credibility goes, Turner has run into trouble before with those that have cried foul to his recounting of events.  If he is re-elected, as the Canadian public we may have more opportunities of witnessing such incidents as they unfold on the national stage and within the blogosphere.