Political manipulation nothing new

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A person I hold in very high regard once told me that we should look at changing our democratic system.

He said, “why not go out into the districts, find the biggest numbskull in each one of them, and just appoint them to the MHA’s positions.”

He reasoned that it couldn’t be any worse than what we currently have in Newfoundland and Labrador, and as a side-benefit we’d end up doing away with party rule. I have yet to come up with a reasonable counter-argument, thereby making me think the idea might hold water.

And then along comes a story like the one now attached to Paul Lane.

Paul Lane is a Mount Pearl MHA who spends a lot of time on social media taking pokes at people who are not Tories, berating those who have anything to say that runs counter to Tory policy and just generally making a complete nitwit out of himself.

And now, Lane — joined by others like Vaughn Granter, Steve Kent and Calvin Peach, based on the most recent Telegram story — gets to be the face of the ongoing, highly organized political attempt to manipulate the public view. Here’s hoping this story turns into a nice, big, fat public snowball that rolls and gets bigger and wakes people the hell up about the current state of politics in this province.

It’s not their fault, really. Don’t hate the players. Hate the game.

It’s the system that needs its guts kicked out here.

There is nothing new about the idea that political types in this province are out there wasting taxpayer-funded time goosing and manipulating online media polls. It’s been bandied about and talked about on blogs like the Sir Robert Bond papers, Labradore and others for some time.

This just happens to be one of a great many cases of manipulation that I hope will now finally become a mainstream issue and will expose this bulls—t once and for all.

Manipulation comes in many forms.

There are the online polls on VOCM, The Telegram, CBC, NTV or other media that are raided by-click happy political people and PAID staffers on a regular basis so the end result can be a favourable one for their particular party.

There is the gearing of all happy government announcements to coincide with the exact times that Corporate Research Associates (CRA) is out making phone calls for its quarterly party and leader popularity poll. That one’s been around for years.

There are the people who write letters to publications citing talking points and party policies under the brazen and ridiculous guise of non-partisanship.

And then there are the Open Line show callers. Back in my Tely days I had a Tory MHA pull me aside and explain to me in great detail how the Open Line call-in shows were being manipulated using a detailed and coordinated system including planted callers from around the province and the use of hand-fed political talking points.

That was the day any passion I had for politics was officially terminated.

And that’s just the tip of it.

This is a time in our history when resource development is paramount, we’re about to blow a monster wad of cash on a dam in Labrador, health care is in a state of constant worry, housing and social concerns are being raised, deficits are running large, budgets are getting tighter, roads are full of holes, and services are being stretched.

I don’t give a crap what colour your political stripe is, or what side or corner of the House of Assembly your desk sits in — if you haven’t got anything better to do with your time than piss around with media polls or make sure your little party buddies are calling Randy Simms in the morning, you should just do us all a favour and quit.

The public should be angry that their tax dollars are funding this wretched, childish insanity. Let’s hope they start to clue in because we need the weight of the people to hold government to a higher standard.


Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com

You can also find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenavigatormagazine

And on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NavigatorMag

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Recent comments

  • peter whittle
    February 26, 2013 - 19:08

    Great post Jamie. Keep it up!

  • Steve
    February 22, 2013 - 09:28

    Good job with this column, this is why people are so cynical about politics. The thing that bothers me so much is not people voting in online polls, or even calling in to open line, it is the manipulation of online polls to allow people to vote more than once, and the instructions that were issued on how to do it. Imagine if we had online or another form of electronic voting in this province - how could we trust politicians to keep their mitts off it? In theory the electoral system is independent, but so are news media outlets, and obviously the political types are finding a way to screw the system.

  • D Smith
    February 21, 2013 - 10:42

    Hit the nail right on the head! My mind is blown that the general population isn't calling for heads to roll over this. Hoping the Tely keeps attention focused high on it.