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Conservative Marketing 101

From September 2, 2008

For the purposes of informing their constituents of parliamentary news, MPs are granted free postage privileges to mail out pamphlets to their ridings. In order to qualify for the free, tax-payer paid, postage, the information contained in the pamphlets must pertain to government business and may not contain reference to upcoming elections or campaigns.

MPs are also allowed to send flyers to ridings other than their own riding, again under the condition that the material is not related to an election campaign, and so long as the total number of mailings is no more than 10% of the households in the MPs own riding.

Conservative MPs have recently decided that the rules do not apply to them.

In August 2008, Conservative MPs bombarded mailboxes across the country with tens of thousands of "ten-percenters". In most cases the pamphlets were written and organized by a central committee, with the involvement of the Conservative MPs left an afterthought, their names essentially stamped on the mailings as they were sent out. Due to the overlap of the mailings, some people received six or more flyers in a three week span. Many people consider these flyers to be junk mail, and a waste of resources and taxpayer money. The Conservative party wastes about $3.4 million tax-payer dollars on ten-percenters per year.

Worse yet, the Conservatives decided to ramp up distribution of the mailings while they were awaiting the election call in 2008 - and some of them included a mock ballot which asked the recipient to "vote" for the party that was doing the best job on crime, or on child care. The ballot could then be dropped in a mail box and returned, postage-free. Others asked the question, "Why vote for [MP] Mark [Holland], when Mark won't vote for you?"

Conservative MP Mike Wallace, of Burlington, Ontario, is on the record: "The concept of all marketing is to get people's attention." Unfortunately for Mike, this kind of wasteful, dishonest marketing may not achieve the sort of attention that he is looking for.