In this day and age, we tend to parse every single new piece of information and what we hear to see if there is more in there than meets the naked eye. It’s a feature of our political environment too, which means sometimes we get stories in the media that make you wonder aloud “how did that become a story?”. It’s not that the information or the story is bad, it’s just that the story tells us something that is very obvious that you wouldn’t think would warrant the time to write it.
But sometimes when we see such a story, it makes us reflect on the fact that the story was even written. Sometimes it says a lot about the state of things when there is a story out there that states such simple, obvious facts. Last week we saw one such story in Canadian politics, one that isn’t a good one to be out there a few months from a Federal election campaign:
Stating that a major political party in Canada these days will have a chartered plane and bus is an odd thing for sure; those are things that are a given in modern campaigning. They aren’t extras in a modern campaign, they are an expected part of the basic campaign. That’s why over a decade ago whole situation with Stéphane Dion and the Liberals issues getting a plane made such a splash and didn’t help that campaign get any momentum.
But honestly when I first saw this story about the New Democrats and travel plans, I didn’t give it much thought beyond an eye roll. Things have been rough for the Orange Team, but even this story seemed like a bit of a stretch. The party even went on the record saying the party would have the usual charter and bus combo. So that should have ended the story, right? Normally it would, but then yesterday I received the following email in my inbox:
Okay, that’s probably nothing, right? Maybe, but then this morning I received this in my inbox:
Hmmmm….. okay, this may be something, or may be nothing. It’s not abnormal for parties to bombard their supporters with fundraising emails and one thing I’ve always been taught about fundraising is the best way to motivate people to give is to point to tangible things that their donation will go towards. So asking people to give to help pay for the bus and plane could very well fit into that mould. That would make sense.
But I have to admit that putting all of these things together raises questions for me. This could be nothing in the end, but it put up enough flags for me to think more about it. In my opinion, it’s not a good thing to put out multiple fundraising emails, asking for money to pay for a plane and bus, just one week after a national media outlet writes a story about how you might not be able to afford a plane or a bus for a campaign. It’s could be total coincidence, but it’s bad messaging and frankly undoes the work that was done the week before trying to put what should have been a non-story to bed. Yet now you can honestly ask the following question; does asking supporters for money to pay for a plane and bus prove that the NDP is struggling to pay for a plane or bus? That’s not so clear and straightforward anymore.
In this end, this could be something or could totally be nothing, I’m not making any judgement either way. But like what happened in 2008 with the Liberals ill-fated jet, it can become a part of the narrative of the campaign and a bit of a running joke. Remember the Liberal Plane getting a birthday cake from the NDP? That whole story hung around and didn’t help the Liberals at all. Taken all together I just had to note this, not because it’s the end of the World, but because it’s just not a good omen for the Orange Team. Right now they could use every good omen and sign possible, and while this isn’t major, it’s still another drip that adds to all the others that are falling on the NDP. It’s not helpful, but I guess it is what it is.