Another interesting angle to the Conservative In and Out scandal coming from the Left Coast, and my old stomping-grounds of Vancouver Island.
One of the Conservative campaigns roped into participating in the ill-fated In and Out scheme was the Norm Sowden campaign in Nanaimo-Cowichan, a riding that has been conservative in the past but was won in the last election by NDPer Jean Crowder.
While they participated in the scheme, it seems Nanaimo Conservatives were pissed off because the ads attacked the Liberals, while they were in a fight with the NDP, making them essentially useless, if not counterproductive to their electoral efforts.
Nanaimo-Cowichan Conservative candidate Norm Sowden's campaign, in a fight against NDP incumbent Jean Crowder, took up the request from national headquarters and sent $8,089.20.
However, the Liberal attack ads didn't help Sowden because he was in a fierce fight with the NDP. Court documents cite an e-mail from Hallsor to party headquarters which relays the Nanaimo-Cowichan campaign was "really pissed off" its money was being wasted.
Several thousand dollars went back and forth between the national body and the campaign of Nanaimo-Cowichan candidate Norm Sowden, too, though there are indications the local Conservatives weren't happy with the result. The affidavit cites an e-mail from prominent Victoria Conservative Bruce Hallsor to Michael Donison, the party's then executive director, in which Hallsor says the Nanaimo-Cowichan people were "really pissed off" because the advertising bought with the money attacked the Liberals, not the NDP, who were seen as a much more dangerous opponent. Indeed, New Democrat Crowder won the seat.
Adds columnist Paul Willcocks, in a great column on In and Out:
The Conservatives have offered two defences.
First, they say the candidates really wanted those national ad campaigns to run. They recognized that they mattered less than the leaders and hoped the party effort would help them to victory.
But Elections Canada has evidence that contradicts that. Mostly, the local candidates and their volunteer agents just did what they were told. Sometimes, they said the national ads actually hurt them.
Here on Vancouver Island, the Nanaimo-Cowichan Conservatives complained they were made to pay for advertising that hurt their effort. The ads, directed at a national audience, attacked the Liberals. The local Conservatives' main opponent was New Democrat incumbent Jean Crowder. The attacks, by discouraging Liberal votes, might have helped Crowder to victory.
This all really puts to rest the myth that these were local ads, not national ads. If they were local ads, why were local campaigns so pissed off and why were they indeed unhelpful, if not counterproductive, to the needs of the local campaign? Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers