Monday, November 7, 2011

Two-Way Communication

I went to one of these regional feedback townhalls the PC Party is currently holding yesterday. At that regional feedback townhall was a very high-ranking member of the PC Party. And he said something that I didn't quite grasp the import of at first.

He said that, for the longest time, he'd been trying to get party members to submit their e-mail addresses to the party so that they could be contacted more easily.

Now, for someone like me who spends a good chunk of the day trying to figure out how we're going to take this province back, something like this is obvious, not worthy of a second thought. Of course the party needs my e-mail. Of course the party needs the e-mail of every party member. Why is this an issue?

Then, a few hours later, trying to fall asleep, I asked myself the same question. Why is this an issue?

Then it hit me.

At the moment, people are blaming the central campaign for dropping the ball. They are saying the grassroots were ignored, the campaign gave them nothing to work with, there was too much control, whatever.

But, by and large, the same people who complain the party is ignoring them are the same people who won't submit their e-mails to the party. You the party can contact them???

Then I remembered something else this highly placed individual said yesterday. He said that, by and large, most provincial EDAs were dormant for the majority of the time from 2007 till a few months before the election.

So- I reasoned later that evening- chances are that the same EDAs who complained of having candidates parachuted in are the same EDAs who hadn't done that much between one election and the next.

Then he said that there were unfilled positions on the party executive and there were executive positions that nobody knew existed.

So- continuing on this line of reasoning- despite an abundance of people complaining that the party's priorities are all wrong and that they have the answers, we have vacancies and a general lack of knowledge about who does what within the PC Party of Ontario.

Because, it seems, nobody took it upon themselves to learn about this state of affairs for themselves and do something about it.

So you guys tell me. Is the central campaign solely responsible for what happened?


  1. Excellent post, and very relevant questions. I look forward to discussing them with you over another pint of Guinness at some point in the future.

    My two cents:

    What I see as a larger issue is the way in which the central party communicates with the base. I have given my email address, phone number, and mailing address to the party and in return I get prepackaged messaging which has been distributed by all party members over the past 24 hours. It garners a two-second read and is tossed. If anything, it is more of an annoyance than a valued and important communication.

    This is not to knock the efforts of the party. I appreciate that they make the effort, but in this new age of constant and continual communication, mailers no longer have the novelty and information they once did. In a time of newspapers, mail, and landlines these pieces were invaluable. Now they are merely repetition.

    As for email addresses, I know what they are going to say. I know the messaging. Perhaps this is because I am too politically involved (not completely untrue), but I think it is a fair assumption that those who give email addresses are already committed to the cause. What is the solution? I am not sure, but there must be a happy medium between standard messaging (not effective) and personalized messages (not feasible).

    As for involvement, I have been to enough EDA meetings without quorum to know that lip service is the standard payment in between elections. Which is a shame.

  2. This problem is not unique to the PC Party of Ontario.
    I believe that all parties suffer from the same affliction.
    Staying current between elections should be an ongoing thing, not scrambling shortly before an election which I have witnessed time and again.
    Dedicated personnel ought to be busy keeping track of and nurturing the party faithful at all times. Admittedly, it is not easy to administer as key people are not in paid positions. That may motivate more individuals who update lists that are crucial prior to an election, be it Municipal, Provincial or Federal.
    Granted, there are a number of people purely dedicated to the cause and some, not so much.
    That's the way I see it from much experience.

  3. Perhaps those EDAs without quorum who pay lip service should be working to maintain e-mail lists of their members so that the party does not have to resort to one size fits all messaging and so the party can focus on more important things than trying to open lines of communication with people that should have been opened already?

    The fact that this is a problem that the senior party brass has to struggle with- has to expend *any energy* on- especially in an age when e-mail communication is so basic and mostly ignored, is indicative of a much bigger problem.

  4. The Party wants email addresses so they can contact people. I wonder how open the Party is to people contacting them? Do they solicit or even accept input from 'the little guy', or do they just want foot soldiers to trudge door to door and man phone banks for them, (and of course, give them money)?

  5. In my experience, the OPC tends to have A LOT of people still hanging around from the Bill Davis years. These people don't give emails because they don't believe in computers.

    I recall having to fight and threaten resignation on my board if we didn't get computers and the party's voter ID software.

    IMO, the OPC needs to work on becoming a true grassroots party. That would help with the motivation between elections. For example, instead of having regional policy meetings that cost $500 to attend, they should allow riding associations to have their own policy workshops with free participation for all members.

    This won't happen though because people within the party are afraid that the grassroots might actually take over, however if they did it would have stopped Hudak from adopting a failed NDP policy that hasn't gained traction in decades (HST cut on home heating).

  6. I think sitting around and waiting for the Party to show that they are interested in listening to people is less effective than making the party listen.

    Here's an interesting story you might not know about the Liberals:

    When, last year, Dalton said "no way" to mixed martial arts being legal in Ontario, the party's youth wing immediately petitioned the party to let it be legalized. At the same time, David Peterson and the folks at Brock Cassels leaned on McGuinty, and whaddaya know, he changed his mind:

    Now, you can debate the relative effectiveness of the youth wing vs. David Peterson in getting this to happen, but that doesn't change the fact that the youth wing SPOKE UP. And this is their *youth wing*.

    Then we have MPPs like Kevin Flynn, Jeff Leal, Donna Cansfield, Charles Sousa, and Kim Craitor who constantly bother Dalton to make decisions that will save their seats.

    My point is that the Liberals have not decided, "Oh, the party won't listen to me so why bother." So what's our excuse?

    If we have bad policy or a bad policy process, it is because not enough people are telling the party that. What prevents the EDAs from submitting policy resolutions now? Or, what prevents the EDAs from putting forward a constitutional amendment in February making that possible?