'We don't need press announcements': P.E.I. Greens taking unusual approach to campaign

P.E.I.'s Green Party says it won't hold any news conferences to highlight specific policies during the election campaign, a move an Island journalism instructor says could backfire.

Other parties holding news conferences to highlight promises, Greens hold only one

P.E.I.'s Green Party says instead of holding press conferences to highlight specific campaign promises, it will focus more on door-knocking and talking with voters about the party's election platform. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Election platforms are inevitably chock full of promises. But at the unveiling of the Green Party's platform earlier this week, leader Peter Bevan-Baker kicked off the event with a surprising one.

"I promise I will not drag you out to yet another announcement on any other day of this election," he said to the media and party supporters crammed into a campaign office in Crapaud. 

Bevan-Baker went on to explain that — unlike the three other parties, which have already held multiple news conferences to announce specific policies and say they will hold more throughout the campaign — the Greens say they won't hold any, beyond that first one. They'll instead focus on door-knocking. 

Rick MacLean, a journalism instructor at Holland College, suspects the Greens could pay a price by staying away from news conferences throughout the campaign. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"We don't need press announcements to tell people how incredible this [platform] is," said the Greens' other incumbent, Hannah Bell. "We're going to have it in those hundreds and thousands of conversations at the doors between now and E-day."

It's a campaign strategy that has Holland College journalism instructor Rick MacLean scratching his head.

He said while the news conference boycott is certainly "on brand" for a party "trying to portray a different way of doing things," he suspects it may come at a price for the Greens. 

'The Greens are making their life harder'

"This is a very short election. They are desperately trying to get noticed, and the easiest way to get noticed is to use the mainstream media, the main outlets, and make their life as easy as possible," said MacLean. 

"Not holding news conferences means they have to run around and chase [the media] a bit. The Greens are making their [own] life harder when they want to get their message out as often as they can."

Liberal incumbent Health MacDonald says while door-knocking is important, it's tough to catch everyone at home. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The other parties are offering no apologies for holding news conferences. Liberal incumbent Heath MacDonald said knocking on doors only gets you so far. 

"We have to remember that we have a working class society in P.E.I., and we're not going to get 100 per cent of the people home every day. So it's important we get that message out through the media," said MacDonald. 

'You can't leave one group out'

Like the Greens, the Liberals have already unveiled their full election platform. MacDonald acknowledged that now, they'll just use news conferences to highlight some of the policies that are part of that platform. 

NDP Leader Joe Byrne said his party will take the same approach. 

"When we release our platform, the whole platform, we're still going to have announcements on health care and education, because those are the issues people are talking to us about," he said. "We don't want to have the housing crisis buried in a whole campaign announcement."

The Greens insist Islanders will still have lots of opportunities to hear more details about their specific policies and priorities. 

NDP leader Joe Byrne, centre, says his party plans to hold more news conferences like this one, even after releasing its full election platform. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

A spokesperson for the party said they do plan to issue some news releases, and that they'll be very active on social media as well. 

PC Leader Dennis King said while all the parties' campaign strategies may differ, they're all just trying to reach as many voters as possible. 

"Our connection with people is changing from the traditional," said King. "But of course, Compass is still the most watched suppertime news show, probably per capita in Canada. People still read The Guardian every day. It is a delicate balance, but that's the challenge."

MacLean agreed, saying voters get their information in different ways now. 

Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King says it's a 'challenge' to reach every voter during this election campaign, given the many ways Islanders now get their news and connect with candidates. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"There are people that literally don't follow radio and TV anymore. They're getting their information from their cell phone.... There are other people asking their kids how this Facebook and Snapchat thing actually works," said MacLean. 

"They're still depending on radio, TV, and the newspapers, and you can't leave one group out."

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