Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Blogs Don't Get the Credit They Deserve?

I had a hunch that the mainstream media (MSM) would overlook the blogosphere and its role with at least one candidates fate.

As I sat in my dentist's office waiting for a cleaning (sigh), I read the latest Macleans Magazine and low and behold, I flipped to "Wrath of the Bloggers", an article I had already read online courtesy of a another's bloggers link (The Accordion Guy).

I recalled the first MSM shot, where Jim Rankin of the Toronto Star had picked up on the blogs of Michael Geist, a law professor of reknown, and the blogosphere reactions, and then queried Sarmite Bulte. In his article published January 6th, 2006 came forth the famous "friends" line and the rest is history.

Notice the order of events, blog, blog, then MSM. (then blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, MSM, MSM, MSM, MSM, blog, blog, blog, blog, MSM, MSM, MSM, blog, MSM, blog (NOTE: the final word to the blog)).

In between the flurry of the final weeks of the election, a surprised candidate is asked at an all candidates meeting in the riding, in light of her campaign contributions from the copyright lobby and her forthcoming fundraiser, will she take the copyright pledge? [There is a petition on this link too]

The video of her response in 12 hours later or less is on the blog site of "The Accordion Guy" which sets the blog world on fire at the unappologetic MP caught like a deer in headlights, and in anger. What was that pithy line of never in public, especially in a debate, showing your anger. OUCH.

Note the order, blog, MSM? Not bad for a new form of communications that some dismiss as irrelevant. Irrelevant at your future political life it is.

Now did blogging increase the election turnout? Maybe.

Examining the riding, it had a 63.8% turnout in 2004, and a 72.3% turnout in 2006, an increase of 12.7% whereas nationally the increase in voter turnout went from 60.9% to 64.9% of registered voters, an increase of 6.6%. Relatively, this ridings turnout showed a whopping 93.3% increase relative to the national increase.

I note Bulte lost only 6.3% of her 2004 votes, but Peggy Nash gained 27.7% votes. The Tory gained 21.4%. Interestingly, the Greens lost 13.2% of theirs.

So Bulte did not lose many votes, but her opponents significantly increased their votes. To tie Bulte at her lowered levels, Nash would have needed an increase of at least 14.1% over her 2004 results, which would be greater than the overall increase in voter turnout. With her increase of 27.7%, and voter turnout 93.3% above the national increase, did blogs play a causal role?

Bulte loses 6.3%. National turnout up 6.6%. Nash gains here by staying flat, only 12.9%. She needs 14.1% or she loses. She gets a 27.7% increase and the keys to the Parliament.

Its not a chicken and egg thing here: the blog came first, then MSM.

Did an aroused electorate respond? Seems so.


thespian said...

I note Bulte lost only 6.3% of her 2004 votes, but Peggy Nash gained 27.7% votes. The Tory gained 21.4%. Interestingly, the Greens lost 13.2% of theirs.

Not interesting. I knew, last time, that Nash was not going to win. As an affirmed leftie, and interested in more parties' voices being added to the national debate, I voted Green.

This time, Nash had a big chance; even if you're not in the copyright loop, people here are angry at Bulte for other reasons; when she has to come to the poor, part of her former riding, she looks like she'd be distastefully pulling up her skirts if she had them, and her work in gov't has entirely been for the rich, High Park section of the riding. Even when she came down and had a fundraiser on Queen West, it was in the trendy part...about 10 minutes outside of her violent, crime ridden riding.

So when it came to my choice this year, I (and others who voted Green last time), voted NDP, as most of us had before. I want the Green Party to thrive, but I wanted Bulte out much more passionately.

Lawrence said...

To me, with the turnout disproportionally high, it was surprising to see the high rate of defections from the Green camp. It indicates they have a very soft base politically.

In changes, that 13.2% loss was big, representing 19% of Nash's margin of victory. You highlight well some of the reasons for the vote shifts, particularly when one is going to place in effect an "anti-vote" from the left side.

I appreciate your comments!

James Hatton said...

You mentioned a "dear in the headlights" moment when Bulte was asked to sign the copyright pledge.

I thought about the copyright pledge, and the fact that any candidate who signed it during the election may have breached Section 550 of the Canada Elections Act. The text of the pledge and the relevant section of the act is here:


Under Section 550, no candidate can sign anything that would prevent him or her from exercising freedom of action in Parliament. Anyone who ever had one of the donations impugned by the the pledge could not sign the pledge without restricting their freedom to act in Parliament, since it would include refusing to: "serve as Minister of Canadian Heritage or as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, [n]or sit on any legislative committee (parliamentary or standing committees) conducting hearings or deliberations on copyright matters."

I think the request was an unfair question.

Lawrence said...

I don't think the pledge was unfair or unlawful. I think the point of the pledge was two-fold: to indicate to Canadians that the signor could and would exercise self-control in their future actions if elected, and to afford to Canadians the opportunity to demand better.

Ms. Bev Oda for example could have been offerred the position of Heritage Minister and could have refused it, on the principles of the pledge, if she believed the donations she accepted from the copyright lobby would cause her to appear to be in a conflict of interest in her duties as Heritage Minister.

The argument in the Election Act you point to is "the out" that politicians can rely on when they make electoral pledges and renege, usually in the first year of their mandate, trusting either voter memory to fail or this lapse to be forgiven as they demonstrate competence.

Ethically, yes the law is good in that it causes any pledges made to be worth the paper or digital ink they are written on, and the well informed electorate to know this, as not binding, but rather as a hope for the best.

Legally, however it gives a defense to the politician who signs a pledge, and then when elected, does the opposite.

Typically, it appears to be a clause of convenience, with the major duty, the saving of the government of the day from any legal actions against it, such as what Harper waged unsuccessfully as President of the National Citizens Coalition.

Note, while idealistic, I believe politicians who run on something during an election, should be counted on to continue that position in elected office. They should a) show who they are, b) if they have principles, state them, c) if they have party allegiance, respect it, and d) if they fail those principles, they should resign.

Now of course this idealistic appeal has a ring to it, but it does allow politicians to say "things" are different now than before the election, but for somethings, time or political imperative should and ought not be a factor.

PS If you think I am "Liberal basher " guess again: I have great deal of contempt now for what the Reform cum Tories did today with their cabinet. I would hate to have voted Liberal in British Columbia and elected Liberal David Emerson. That kind of betrayal no party should welcome, or support. Belinda Stronach of all people today on CFRB had some choice words for that kind of thing today. And you know what, she was right.

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