A few days ago, CTV published a piece about how many federal lobbyists, nervous about the tight new lobbyist regulations, were staying home this campaign instead of volunteering for political parties. Certainly a few have loudly and somewhat pathetically complained that their rights are being violated by regulations that say you can be a political party activist or a corporate mercenary, but not both at the same time. But this also is a very narrow view of what is actually happening. Many of the lobbyists have just taken to Twitter.
The Conservative Party in general has also taken to Twitter for the campaign. This raises important questions. The Lobbying Commissioner can hardly ban people from blogging (or tweeting). She has said that lobbyists can’t actively participate in election campaigns. But the Tories’s small army of unofficial spokesmen on Twitter doesn’t really qualify. The intervention of these lobbyists is an important signal, though. They expect the Tories to win, and when that happens, they don’t want to fall afoul of the Harper team’s legendary grudges by not having “done their bit” in the election.
Twitter politics are astonishingly juvenile — and I mean the political posts by professionals here, not just the ragtag bands of anonymous young adults roaming the site. Senator Doug Finley, who by virtue of his position in our “chamber of sober thought” you might expect to be mature and perhaps even aloof from partisanship, is actually anything but, raging against imaginary socialist coalitions and boasting that he’s helping out in the war room to “smash” the opposition, which he refers to as an “axis of losers.” Incidentally, Finley claims he is helping the Conservative war room again. Last time he was doing that, in 2006, he was laundering money to circumvent the election spending limits, and he has been charged for those offences. I wonder what he’ll be tasked with this time.
The others are no better, though. Take Yaroslav Baran, for instance. He was a director in the Harper war room in 2004, 2006, and 2008. This time he appears to be on the sidelines, but he can still be found spewing out rabid comments on Twitter, mostly immature foolishness about how Elizabeth May wants “a unicorn, a purple pony, and a golden ticket,” and about how we need to move beyond “guaranteed eternity of minority bullshit.”
I’m not sure what to make of all this. If I was employing a lobbyist, I would want someone who has a slightly more clean-shaven public image, I would think, but then again, I can’t and don’t employ any lobbyists. Maybe this is how Canadian national politics function these days. Remember that next time you tell a teenager that young people don’t think enough before posting embarrassing personal stuff online.
What I’m really eagerly awaiting, though, is someone who is officially inside the campaign circle and shoots their mouth off anyways. You know it’s coming. These clowns are usually kept on a tight leash by the PMO for a reason: they’re loose cannons.Tweet