Monday, February 2, 2009

Phil McColeman sends Generic Holiday Mailout

For the first substantial post in this blog, I'd like to begin by quoting a letter to the editor published in the Brantford Expositor on January 5, 2009. It references the "muzzledness" of Phil McColeman, which was a substantial controversy during his local campaign. The argument was that McColeman could not give Brant a strong voice in Ottawa because Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not allow his MPs to speak their mind - he muzzles them. Here's the letter:
MP's mailout proves he's just being muzzled

Our Conservative MP has sent to all households, at taxpayers' expense, a so-called newsletter (trimmed in the Conservative colour of choice, blue), which mentions virtually nothing about Brant, the riding he represents.

Like all Harper MPs, he is told what to say and write and, as the message from Conservative Party headquarters must be applicable to all parts of Canada, little mention is made of an MP's riding or the MP's constituents.

The content of the newsletter, apart from a generic piece about Remembrance Day, is simply Conservative Party propaganda with, most oddly, no mention at all of the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue Parliament after sitting only 12 days.

A shaky start for an MP who said he wouldn't be muzzled -- all Conservative MPs are muzzled by Stephen Harper and our MP is clearly no exception.

Andrew Hunter, Brantford

Mr. Hunter hit the nail right on the head with this one. McColeman's newsletter was the blandest piece of birdcage-liner I've seen in a long time. It did not even reference that Canada's Parliament had almost melted weeks earlier; at least this was a departure from the misleading rhetoric that the Conservative Party had been spewing during that near-crisis.

Proof that Mr. Hunter was bang-on came in the form of further reader responses in the Expositor, such as this one published on January 7, 2009:
Same newsletter sent by all Tories

This is a response to Andrew Hunter's comments on Jan. 5, 2009. I completely agree with your comments that this newsletter is purely Conservative propaganda. I have family and friends in other ridings who have received the exact same newsletter from their Conservative MP.

Clearly, we are being governed by a party whose members, including Mr. McColeman, have little respect for the intelligence of the electorate. I think their actions of late prove just that.

Chris Hague, Brantford

Clearly, Phil McColeman was too busy attending to the needs of his constituents to have the time to actually write something related to Brant in his taxpayer-funded mailout. Or was he...?
E-mails have not been returned

Mr. Hunter gives Mr. McColeman and the PM way too much credit. Back in October 2008, I visited the Conservative party website. The home page had an invitation to submit a question. So I did. In return I received an email from a subordinate saying Mr. McColeman was too busy to comment.

Not to be deterred, I went over Mr. McColeman's head and wrote directly to the PM. The PM's office acknowledged receipt of the email and sent it on to the office of Mr. Jim Flaherty, where in turn it was acknowledged.

None of the recipients has ever responded directly to the original e-mail even after having invited it. Since then, I have sent numerous e-mails to Mr. McColeman-- some as queries and more recently scathing commentary. The result is always the same. No result. Mr. McColeman is not being muzzled. He has joined the ranks of the "out of touch" Conservative Party. Hiding right under our noses in Ottawa.

Greg Driver, Paris

In his less than three months in office, Phil McColeman already displayed a resounding disregard for the citizens of Brant. I want to share with you another editorial gem that was published around the same time:
Leadership promise ringing hollow

Leadership? Strong voice in Ottawa?

Not to spoil Mr. Phil McColeman's extended winter vacation, but I believe that writer Andrew Hunter raises a solid point in his recent letter which was titled: "MP's mailout proves he's just being muzzled." A friend of mine once said if McColeman couldn't possibly get things done under the control-freak Stephen Harper, he should not have promised "leadership" or a "strong voice in Ottawa" during his electoral campaign and on his website.

During the past election, former prime minister Jean Chretien stated that "if (former prime minister Pierre) Trudeau had treated him the way Harper treats his ministers, I would have resigned."

That boils down to the classic dichotomy of our MP being clueless or dishonest.

Mr. McColeman has fulfilled the negative and unfortunate stereotype of politicians who will say anything to get elected. This is very lamentable, considering rising antipathy in voters and the fact that our riding has been fortunate to have had classy and consistent MPs such as Lloyd St. Amand, Jane Stewart and Derek Blackburn.

Jorge Gomez, Brantford

It should be noted that McColeman did not respond to any of these criticisms, and there is currently no evidence to indicate that he has changed his attitude.

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