Relative ethics

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Out in British Columbia, the Liberal government of Christy Clark is taking a hammering right now, after the opposition got hold of a leaked memo showing how her government planned a barefaced attempt to woo ethnic voters.

It is a 17-page “how-to” guide on political opportunism, rife with blatant examples of ways to try and win particular ridings by using ethically questionable methods to convince ethnic voters to love the Liberals.

Make apologies for past racial slurs and actions; make friends in the ethnic community; make sure pamphlets with Chinese text include pictures of Chinese voters. And the list goes on.

One of the methods suggested?

“Develop a stable of supporters willing to write letters to the editor or call in to open-line shows to aid in both supporting our proactive efforts in non-English media and responding to attacks.”

Sound familiar?

It should.

At least part of that is a technique our current provincial government uses — unlike B.C.’s government, however, without anything even close to an apology.

Here’s Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s take on members of her government stacking online polls and open-line shows.

“Oh, please, there's no story here,” Dunderdale told reporters. “Do we participate in polls? You betcha. Who in Newfoundland doesn’t, whether it comes to ‘Canadian Idol’ or something that affects us?”

That’s not the view being taken in British Columbia, where Premier Clark came close to facing a total party revolt on the weekend: to be fair, most of the revolt was about the raw political opportunism of targetting specific ethnic voters, a strategy that is also being regularly used at the federal level. But Clark has had to apologize and back away from the entire package, an apology many British Columbians are having a hard time accepting.

But to get back to the question of whether there is a story in opinion-rigging. Of course there is.

Think of it this way: if you find out that a company you’ve been doing business with is willing to cheat to win contracts, doesn’t that undermine your faith in their operations? After finding it out, are you as comfortable doing business with them as you were before?

You find that a friend of yours lied about something significant: do you look at them in the same light, and with the same trust, afterwards?

Perhaps, if Premier Dunderdale believes there’s no story to falsifying public opinion, she believes that other ethical lapses are acceptable as well. That’s what the ethical measure of politicians is all about.

Is deliberately rigging a poll to your own political benefit functionally different from anyone representing themselves as someone they are not?

Just politics?


An interesting measure of personal political ethics?

Perhaps it’s that, too.

Geographic location: British Columbia, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Corporate Psycho
    March 05, 2013 - 20:37

    Someone needs to start a new party in Nl. Please give me some to vote for!

  • Little Man Dan
    March 05, 2013 - 13:03

    Stop thinking, or I'll sue ya! here Johnny, here where's my lapdog lackie when you need him.

  • majorie manure
    March 05, 2013 - 12:12

    Paul lane? Weather it be a rope or a pole, the People who do this are the same people who couldn't climb the rope in gym class. They will never feel that unique sensation from exersion and will never see the view from the top. The only way they can win is to cut the rope down, call fair and tie up the truth from ever getting out. as duderdale said in the MRF speech, we are now, finally apart of confederation with canada. Steve Harpers canada.

  • saelcove
    March 05, 2013 - 11:19

    Media were afraid of williams they still are

  • Herb Morrison
    March 05, 2013 - 10:15

    What else is new. During the Smallwood era, I am told that Joey Smallwood went from being, United/Methodist, to being Salvation Army, to being Roman Catholic, depending on which Christian Tradition was predominant in the particular area of the province where he was campaining. All in the name of political expediency. Nowadays its' opinion poll-riggingand flooding open-line shows. Same son, different tune.

  • Never too late.
    March 05, 2013 - 10:08

    I am so glad that the Media is taking interest and responsibility now even though it was blatant and glaring all along what was happening in the so-called polls! I guess it was not in the Media's interest to do so earlier.

  • Too Funny
    March 05, 2013 - 09:46

    That's funny. "Political ethics". That's called an oxymoron. That's funny too. Also, funny is the silence from the Liberal and NDP politicians. And now we see a Liberal government doing the same thing. The partys say they're different but they act the same.

  • Wondering
    March 05, 2013 - 09:31

    I understand the implications of this. But what I don't get is why is this only a 'story' now? It was well documented by poli sci profs at MUN a few years ago (during Danny's reign) that this exact type of thing was going on. No one in the media made a peep about it. I have to wonder if it was because no one in the media wanted to 'take Danny on', but Dunderdale is a much easier target. All the things we are railing at Dunderdale for now were initiated by her predecessor. Public opinion was manipulated with precision from 2003-2010 (as was 'spending like drunken sailors'). I guess being a bully with deep pockets has its own advantages.

    • W Bagg
      March 05, 2013 - 10:03

      The proof just came out lately that's why................the media didn't have leaked PINS from MHA's Blackberry's when Dan was around. Kinda like the purple files, the proof hasn't surfaced YET

    • Danny
      March 05, 2013 - 11:31

      Shhhh...for you could be swimin with the fishes!

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 05, 2013 - 08:51

    And SNC-Lavalin's former CEO is now facing various charges (not yet proven in court). Was this the same person who was SNC'Lavalin's CEO when the company got the contract from Nalcor and gave the company the opportunity to make hundreds of millions off the Muskrat Falls project ? Please answer that Nalcor (Ed Martin)/Premier...... Or am I, as a voter, a citizen, a ratepayer prevented from accessing that information? If so ----- WHY is that information SECRET? Is there anything to hide?

  • Herb Morrison
    March 05, 2013 - 07:21

    So, what else is new? Here in Newfoundland and Labrador during the Smallwood era, it is recorded that Joey's Religious affiliation went from being Methidist/United Church, to Anglican, to Roman Catholic, depending on which Tradition was predominant in a particular community. Same old song, different tune.