Just when it looked like the Conservatives had finally figured out how to keep out of trouble, along comes another example that seemingly nothing has been learned from the past political eras (and mistakes) of Mulroney, Chretien and Martin.
The Conservatives have found themselves in the soup over recent publicity stunts where the local MP lavishes funding on his or her riding. The showcase events are the proverbial dog and pony show, the smiling MP trots in one of those oversize cheques popular at these kind of things, says the usual bumph about how "this government is working for the people" all for the local cameras who duly record the event, splashing the grand visage of the giant cheque and MP handing out the cash.
The only problem it seems is that the Conservatives haven't quite learned that the money they're handing over actually belongs to those same people that are receiving it, and not some kind of largess at the providential blessing of the Conservative party.
A recent cheque performance featured a huge cheque featuring the logo of the Conservative party, striking colours of blue and red which have struck the wrong chord for all the wrong reasons.
The issue first came to our attention last month when Gerald Keddy, Conservative MP for South Shore-St. Margaret's in Nova Scotia handed out his own giant cheque for 300,000 dollars (see above) and apparently said, with a straight face, that he hadn't noticed the Conservative logo prominently displayed on the front.
A statement that if nothing else, one suspects provides ample proof of the need for a comprehensive health plan dedicated to vision care for all Canadians, as that's one pretty big C that Mr. Keddy seems to have not seen!
The cheque propaganda quest is causing the Conservatives no shortage of trouble from those pesky Canadian voters, who while no doubt thankful of being bribed with their own dollars still find it rather unseemly that the Conservatives are acting as though its coming out of the mattress under Stephen Harper's bed at 24 Susses.
The Liberals who have no shortage of internal issues to sort through in the last few days have taken on the Conservative mis-step as though it is a gift from heaven have been quick to turn it to their favour, focusing attention on this silly bit of grandstanding by the conservatives that probably wouldn't look out of place back in the days of Eastern Europe's militaristic regimes, all that's missing is the smiling leader for life dropping by to share the good news.
The thing is the trip down into the mud hole could have been avoided simply by using the traditional Canada logo on the cheque (as seen on Baby Bonuses, Child Tax Credits, and EI cheques, not to mention your tax refund), leaving it up to the MP of the riding to draw the ever popular parallel between voting patterns and financial distributions. A notion that will get even more attention with the latest revelations on the topic of infrastructure distributions and how they seem to be helping out the cause in Conservative riding's.
Instead of just governing effectively and letting the opposition parties implode in their inability to find the time and place to bring them down, the Conservatives have managed to turn what should have been positives for their party into negatives, giving the opposition parties some targets to shoot at and bringing back the memories of the ancient ways of the politicians, a move that perhaps may require a lesson to be administered by the voters at a later date.
Through the decades of governance in Canada, every government whether it be Federal, Provincial or Municipal has wanted to make the best of its situation at the levers of power, but sheesh, really, they don't all have to be quite so stupid at going about it!
The Montreal Gazette-- NDP, Liberals cry foul over Tory publicity strategies
Montreal Gazette-- Top Liberal attack dog's pawprints are all over this one
Globe and Mail-- Liberals vent spleen over partisan cheques
National Post-- Kelly McParland: One stimulus conspiracy too many
Vancouver Sun-- Party logos on cheques undermine our faith in government
CBC News-- Ethics chief probes cheque complaints