How political supporters can derail an election campaign

Political satirist Brendan Flaherty's take on the Earl Cowan outburst.

Political satirist Brendan Flaherty's take on the Earl Cowan outburst

Saskatoon Morning's political satirist Brendan Flaherty contemplates the upcoming federal election. (CBC)

So you get up one morning, maybe brew some coffee, eat a couple slices of toast, and get ready to go about your business. You don your best tan blazer, get in your vehicle, and drive over to a Conservative  Party rally happening at a nearby hotel ballroom.

You can't wait to hear Stephen Harper make his latest in a string of announcements. What you don't expect is for the dang free press to continue to ask questions about this Duffy thing. The guy cheated on his taxes, who hasn't done that? The gall of these so-called "reporters." They should talk about real issues. Like getting those dang kids off your dang lawn.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper gave a speech recently while a trio of Boy Scouts in Campbell River, B.C. stood by. (Hannah Thibedeau/CBC News)

Oh, it really gets your blood boiling. And so you decide to say something. Well, shout a bunch, anyway. And all of a sudden you become an Internet punch line faster than you can say "old man yells at cloud." 

It's tough for most politicians to admit this, but every party has supporters like Earl Cowan. But that's the name of the game with politics; you want as many supporters and as many votes as you can get your paws on. But, like those sad people who buy Instagram followers, the results of the efforts to win over Canadians can end up being pretty hollow. It's honestly a surprise that there isn't somebody like last week's "Old White Guy" at every political rally in the country.

Well, there probably is. 

Conservative supporter, Earl Cowan, expresses his frustration with reporters over their questions about the Mike Duffy trial to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, following Harper's announcement in Toronto on Aug. 18. (CBC/Pool)

But the cross-Canada marathon of pit stops that these party leaders make usually have all the local flavour of McDonald's, without any of the nifty chemicals to make it at least taste good. Here's an announcement, there's a promise, and oh look they're standing in front of people so I guess it's going great! 

The Tom Mulcair campaign has managed to tread political water with a combination of centrist positions on issues like crime and the environment while tossing out promises to much-needed demographics: money for seniors, daycare for families, weed for everybody! The NDP announcing a commitment to decriminalize marijuana — in B.C. no less — is about as surprising as the Eagles announcing a seventh farewell tour. 

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair assembled a xylophone in Dundas, Ont., on Tuesday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, in the Trudeau tent, it's a different brand of the NDP's vanilla ice cream. Pandering to the middle class? Yep. Committing more help for veterans? No one can have a problem with that. Chiding Harper and Mulcair, deservedly, for abandoning a debate on women's issues? It's a comfortable saddle on that high horse. 

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau takes a photo with teachers while visiting a education supply store in Newmarket, Ont., on Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

But whether or not the Earl Cowan outburst will actually have an effect on voter turnout is hard to say. Young people who've never had the chance to vote in a federal election have grown up with social media as the norm. It's not something they've had to adapt to or learn about. And they're as liable to forget about Cowan as quickly as the Internet breaks — unless we hear from him again. Or, unless any of the prepped, primped and pandering candidates manage to say or do anything to shake things up, even a bit.

But at the rate things are going, I'd say the chances of that are fairly slim. No question.

Brendan Flaherty is Saskatoon Morning's political satirist. Follow his political musings on Twitter

About the Author

Flaherty Is Saskatoon Morning's political satirist.


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