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Truth in advertising?

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I really have to send a special shout out to the marketing department of the Conservative Party of Canada for their latest pamphlet, which arrived at my house about two weeks ago.

Tory MP James Bezan, who many of you may know represents the good people of Selkirk-Interlake, sponsored the pamphlet. I live in the comfy confines of Winnipeg South Centre, which is represented by lonely Liberal MP Anita Neville.

Anyone who lives in a riding represented by someone other than a Tory MP knows about the flood of mailings that arrive courtesy of Tory MPs in other Manitoba ridings. It’s just part of the CPC direct mail strategy, to use financial resources from "safe" Tory seats to bombard voters in non-Tory ridings.

I don’t like it, but I’ve never spent a lot of time fretting about it either. And besides, I like getting political pamphlets, especially ones like this.

The pamphlet in question, another in the Tories’ "Stand Up For Canada" campaign, asks "What’s the Conservative government doing to help our families make ends meet during these tough economic times?"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds with details about improvements to the Universal Child Care Benefit, especially the fact that it will become tax-free to single-parent families. And that’s a good thing. Although I might note that the Tories are essentially double dipping to promote this policy: In addition to the party mail-outs, which are supported by taxpayer per-vote subsidies, the government also has an "official" government information publicity campaign that contains many of the same details. But I digress.

The pamphlet ends with a poll question. "Who Do You Think Is On The Right Track On Helping Canadian Families?" I left in the capitalization used by the authors.

A rhetorical question perhaps?

The pamphlet has a spot where you can vote for all four party leaders, including the Liberal’s Michael Ignatieff, NDP boss Jack Layton and Elizabeth May of the Green Party. There’s even instructions asking poll participants to "check one." And then there’s an arrow pointing to the place where you can vote – wait for it – Stephen Harper.

Clever. Very clever.

The pamphlet, of course, has more to do with voter identification than surveying the opinions of Canadians on which party is on the right track on helping Canadian families. Even so, I find it’s the kind of general approach that insults the intelligence of most thinking voters. But that’s just me.

However, given that the Tories are running behind in most national polls to the Liberals, one most wonder what kind of response they are getting to their mock poll. The results of these polls are, not surprisingly, never revealed. So it’s unclear whether anyone actually returned the pamphlet to Tory HQ after having ignored the diabolical "check one" arrow to vote for another party leader.

Now there’s a poll result I’d like to read about.

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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