Hope you all had a great summer. While almost anything is possible, we don’t expect a federal election before next spring. One thing we can say about our PM is that his government just keeps on giving (and taking). Once again, the Conservatives have used a shuttered Parliament to advance their extreme and divisive agenda.
We’ve followed these issues all summer onour websiteandfacebook pageincluding the G8/G20, long form census, long gun registry, Gay Pride funding, “unreported” crime, new prisons, new fighter jets, Fox News North, refugees, vote buying, sign counting and EI.
A big thanks to everyone who volunteered their time to help the campaign over the summer.
I was very pleased that my satirical blog post in July, “Harper backs down on long form census” resulted in record traffic on our site three days in a row. I’ll be trying my hand at more of that.
Your feedback is appreciated and remains very positive. There have been a lot of constructive suggestions which we try our best to incorporate. Now that summer is wrapping up, we’re taking our campaign to the next level – on the ground.
Launching campaigns in 10 ridings At the outset of the campaign in March, we said that we wanted to run on-the-ground campaigns in Conservative held ridingsifwe were confident that the Cons were beatable there andifthere were enough local volunteers to form a campaign committee.
We identified 32 ridings and, from the group of 32, we are now giving priority to 10 ridingswhere all candidates have been nominated. These ridings areVancouver Island North, Surrey North, Kitchener Centre, Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, London West, Mississauga-Erindale, Oak Ridges-Markham, OakvilleandOttawa Orléans.
We will be in touch with our current contacts in those (and nearby) ridings. We will be expanding our communications and outreach to find new supporters. Finding local volunteers remains our key challenge. Our goal is to form local campaign groups and as each gets off the ground, we’ll be contacting local media, conducting targeted outreach and fundraising.
How you can help 1) join the group for the riding(s) you are interested in (even if you aren't sure whether you'll be able to commit your time and energy on the ground). 2) If you live in (or nearby) one of the 10 ridings listed above, pleasecontact usif you’re ready to become actively involved. We are looking for volunteers to help with outreach, riding-level research, local media and literature distribution. 3) Join our website if you haven’t already. There are at least a couple hundred facebook supporters who are not on the website. We don’t know which riding you live in and are unable to send riding-specific messages to you. 4) If you’ve already joined our website, please join one (or more) of theonline riding groups. There is a group for each of the proposed target ridings. The purpose of the groups is to provide a space and organizing tool for people in the ridings to meet online, get to know one another and organize the riding campaign. 5) You can also help the central campaign in a number of ways including targeted outreach, editorial services, translations, multimedia, auditing and media relations. 6) You can contact us viaemailor phone – 416-656-1919.
Many people have asked if we’re going to get involved with vulnerable opposition held ridings. While this was not part of the initial scope of Catch 22, we have talked it over on several occasions and have decided to begin to compile a list of potential defensive ridings.
Policy Over the past few months, many people have asked us, “Why should I support the Liberals? They’re no different than the Conservatives.” Others have asked, “Why should I support the NDP? The Greens have better environmental policy.” And there are undoubtedly many federalists who would have a hard time voting for a Bloc candidate. While many say that the Liberals have been drifting and have propped up Harper more times than we care to remember, the Bloc and NDP have also loaned their support to Harper to keep his government afloat.
Truth be told, for the most part the opposition has been an ineffective check on the daily abuses that we are witness to. They have shown that they cannot be trusted to put their rivalries and short-term partisan interests aside for the long term interests of the country.
We do not dispute that there are clear policy similarities and differences between the parties on a wide range of issues. However, when it comes to the core issue of eroding democratic institutions and abuse of power, only the Conservatives have it within their vision and agenda to destroy the (already imperfect) fabric of life as we know it in Canada. So we have to ask ourselves, “What are the stakes in the next election? Can we do any worse?”
This is why the Catch 22 campaign has tried to focus on democracy-related issues and the need to stop the Harper Conservatives. They are extremists – sometimes in moderate clothing, other times baring their teeth - and are clearly taking the country in the wrong direction. Stephen Harper may well be the most destructive Prime Minister in Canadian history.
We understand that asking voters to consider foregoing their first choice (in order to lessen vote-splitting) can be distasteful. That’s why we have also identified the need for electoral reform as a game changer in the medium term.
We have deliberately avoided most other questions of policy that are dealt with in Ottawa because that would divide us. In order to succeed, we need to leave our policy differences at the door and instead we must focus on Priority #1 - replacing this nasty government with one that is more in line with the values and views of most Canadians. The Titanic is running aground. It’s time for a new captain before Harper sinks us all.
Boosting participation on the website To encourage more participation on our website, we’re now posting 2 or 3 informative news stories/op-eds a day on thediscussion forumand linking to them from ourFacebook pageandTwitter. We’ll be following the opinion polls a little more closely and we plan to have some guest contributors. We invite you to join (or start) a discussion, post your own content (every member of the website has a blog) and share relevant links on the website or Facebook.
Meetings On July 28th about a dozen people met for the first Toronto area Catch 22 meeting. Attendees were mostly from the city but two people came all the way from Oakville which was a welcome surprise. We will be following up with volunteers. As reported in theJuly update, I had three meetings during my visit to British Columbia. Nick Fillmore talked to a number of people during his trip to Nova Scotia. We’re also building for an Ottawa-area meeting for the two ridings there.
Future updates We will endeavor to produce a shorter update on a bi-weekly basis from now on.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your interest in the Catch 22 Harper Conservatives campaign.
Gary Shaul on behalf of the Catch 22 team
PS: Occasionally someone asks, Is Catch 22 some sort of reference to the novel, Catch 22? Nope. The “22” in our Catch 22 is a reference to the number of days that Harper prorogued Parliament earlier this year. Our campaign is, in part, a reaction to prorogation – defeating at least 22 Conservative MPs as a concrete consequence for their disdainful attacks on democracy. Having said that, we have never been stuck on 22 ridings and recognize that, for Harper to be denied his minority government, the Cons must lose more seats than that.