There is always give and take between the media and politicians in playing the game of access.
With media being banned from the CPC party debate in Strathmore last Tuesday to see who would be running for the party as an MP candidate for the newly-formed Bow River riding, apparently there is only take in the party.
The move is quite hypocritical, given the recent actions involving some CPC candidates in the riding who apparently wished The Taber Times and Vauxhall Advance be the private party’s public relations department, yet had no invite to the party itself.
One candidate’s campaign made repeated calls to the Taber Times office to ensure the newspaper received notice of the dates, times, and locations of the candidate forums and voting times for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination contest in the Electoral District of Bow River.
As the Times, Advance and other sister papers spent time interviewing individual candidates on their platforms, another complained about why bothering because the window to buy CPC memberships and having a valid vote had already closed.
It is a gross misunderstanding of the role of the media and further shows the party’s perceived view of entitlement by many.
If the CPC party is going to ban media, and non-card-carrying members of the public from the debate — a debate highly likely resulting in the future MP of our riding given the party’s long-standing influence, a question has to be asked: Why tell us about them other than the hopes media outlets will give free advertising to a private entity, informing card-carrying members when debates are and where to vote? Take out an ad then.
Also, when did revealing one’s political platform to the media only matter in driving up membership enrollment for a private political party?
Even another question arises — would a member of the media that is a card-carrying CPC members have been allowed to cover the debate unfiltered?
It is this disconnect that has many Albertans disillusioned that they do not matter when it comes to government from a party that has had a stranglehold on the nation for so long.
Giving a high-school analogy, if you are not part of the cool kids group, you might as well sit at another table alone in the cafeteria, eating your sandwich of political contempt.
This does not seem to be a common practice among other political parties in the country in determining their candidates, so why is it with the Conservatives?
If you are planning on ruling a riding of 100,000-plus people in Bow River, only low-four-figure-at-best Albertans who are card-carrying CPCs in the riding matter in listening to your platform and dialogue?
The Conservative Party of Canada is a private entity and is entitled to do whatever they want away from the public eye.
But unlike other private entities is the immense public influence politics can have.
Once you are in, it is not like a citizen in your constituency can opt out of your influence.
Ruling parties are not like Wal Mart, where you can simply choose not to shop (spend your tax dollars) there. A ruling party has influence over your tax dollars, social and economic policy, health care, education, infrastructure etc. whether you want them to or not. Over and over again, you hear the political speak of openness, access, transparency and ‘of the people.’
If one’s intent is to rule the public, there should be nothing private to the matter whatsoever.
If you are planning on representing everyone in the Bow River constituency as their MP, there should be nowhere along the process that is private.
What is said behind closed doors among the ‘private boys club’ of a CPC debate may be very different in the spin when the nomination seat is secured within the party and it is released to the public.
Quite simply, the CPC party cannot have it both ways, dispersing information to the media in which it only benefits itself, yet holds back information that can serve as a service to the whole.
You do not need to be a card-carrying member of any political party to have a stake and be engaged in the political process which will eventually determine the destiny of the whole constituency.
Editor’s Note: In the Sept. 17 print edition of The Taber Times, this editorial erroneously referred to the federal Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) as the provincial Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta (PC). The Times apologizes for any confusion.