Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nanaimo Conservatives: In and Out ads helped the NDP win

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?

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Wheatsheaf said...

Good logic - but for the existence of the NDP, the Liberals may have had a chance at winning Nanaimo-Cowichan.

If only that extra money had gone towards local adds attacking the NDP, than the Conservatives could have made up that 9000 vote deficit to win the riding. Instead, by focusing on the Liberals, 9000 voters jumped from the Liberals to the NDP - giving the NDP 3000 more votes than in 2004 and thereby sinking both the Tories and Liberals votes chance of winning the riding.

The NDP is used to not being in power, so when things go poorly we blame ourselves and look to revamping the party for the 30th time in four years. When the Liberals lose they blame everyone else: the NDP for "defeating" Paul Martin, the RCMP for having the gall to investigate Canada's natural ruling party and now the Conservatives for overspending.

Jeff said...

Honestly wheatshef, you're offbase in at like 5 ways here. Try reading the post and trying again.

Here's a hint: this was the CONSERVATIVES' logic, not mine. The CONSERVATIVES in this riding were upset the ads were targeting the Liberals not the NDP. The CONSERVATIVES in this riding were felt this helped the NDP in the riding. These aren't Liberal arguments. These are CONSERVATIVE arguments.

Try reading before spouting off.

Wheatsheaf said...

My mistake... or wait a second...
Another interesting angle to the Conservative In and Out scandal coming from the Left Coast, and my old stomping-grounds of Vancouver Island.
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?

I guess writing these lines you were not endorsing the comments but just throwing them out there for the sake of... well...I have no idea why you would write this on your blog unless you supported them. Especially since you fail to indicate otherwise.

Once again - good logic!

Jeff said...

Perhaps I was putting the comments forward because I thought they were interesting, and added new information to the debate on the issue? Seems plausible.

What I was saying, and said quite clearly in the section you quote, is that the reaction of the Conservative riding campaign contradicts the CPC claim these were local, not national ads.

Your logic, and your point frankly, escapes me.

But good for you for not letting the fact this is a Conservative scandal stop you from attacking the Liberals anyway.

sharonapple88 said...

BCer, I think wheatsheaf's upset over the claims that the NDP couldn't have won the riding without the "help" of the Conservatives.

Nanaimo does seem to be a riding that's in play for the Conservatives and the NDP. Afterall, the Reform/ Alliance held it in 1997 (won 44.95% of vote) and 2000(46.63% of the vote). Historically, it appears to move back and forth between the two parties (that's if wikipedia can be trusted).

It's hard to say whether a more directed ad would have helped the Conservatives. That having been said, after looking at the results for 2006:

Jean Crowder NDP 28558 46.77%
Norm Sowden CON 19615 32.13%
Brian Scott LIB 9352 15.32%
Harold Henn GRN 3107 5.09%
Jeff Warr CAP 277 0.45%
Jack East ML 148 0.24%

It's hard to take a local ad seriously as a local ad when it's all about attacking the candidate who has less than half the support than you do. It would be as if the Conservatives attacked the NDP in their national campaign. It doesn't make sense.

Something not quite kosher about this....

Ted Betts said...

... or about as good as an Alberta Conservative paying for a national ad attacking the Bloc.

Jeff said...

Sharon, again these were the claims of the Conservatives in the Nanaimo riding, not myself or the Liberals, so I'll leave it to them to explain their thinking.

I think their basic premise is sound though: in that riding, they were fighting the NDP and not the Liberals, so ads attacking the Liberals weren't particularly helpful for them. Beyond that, I'll leave it to them to defend their comments.

Ted Betts said...

It's not so complicated.

If the local riding is paying money for national ads, that's OK as long as you can maintain the argument that the local riding is benefitting from the national ad campaign (and as long as you were not forced to do by the national campaign).

But if the ad doesn't help you and in fact works against you (and you didn't even want it but it was forced on you), then it is not an appropriate local riding expense but a national campaign expense...

... and...

the local riding would not be entitled to the taxpayer funded rebate....

... and ...

the ad expense ought to be added to the national campaign spending, putting them over the spending limits.

Barcs said...

Why wouldn't the Tories focus their efforts on the liberals,... even in such a riding.

Votes don't tend to be that mobile between the far left and the right.... Its too big a jump usually.

Attacking the NDP or the Conservatives usually means mobile votes move to the (only) party between them. The liberals.

By attacking the liberals the Conservatives hoped to bleed support from the more right leaning liberals.

By attacking the NDP the best the Tories could hope for is maybe a couple votes but hopefully a bunch of people stay home.

In my opinion they are more likely to gain votes from attacking liberals...

Ted Betts said...

You are missing the point.

I suppose, theoretically, you almost have a point in the abstract.

But we are not dealing with theory or abstractions. We are dealing with a real riding and a real election where the real Conservatives on the ground are saying this did not help them.

In other words, they did not want this and it was not the local campaign that asked for it, but a scheme cooked up and thrust upon them from the national campaign.

In other words, this was not a local expense but a national expense.

In other words, the claim by the campaign to be paid by you and me taxpayer for their campaign expenses is invalid and the national campaign broke the law by overspending.