Lib­eral MPs to blitz rid­ings with re­minders of their great­est hits

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NATIONAL NEWS - JOANNA SMITH

OT­TAWA — As Lib­eral MPs spend this week in their rid­ings, they are tasked with re­mind­ing Cana­di­ans what they have done since the last elec­tion as they start boost­ing their ef­forts to con­vince vot­ers they de­serve to stay.

The co-or­di­nated blitz will in­volve vis­its to lo­cal busi­nesses and schools, pitches at the doorstep, MPs serv­ing cus­tomers at the lo­cal cafe and, of course, a cen­trally ap­proved so­cial me­dia hash­tag.

So far, 130 of the 181 Lib­eral MPs have agreed to take part in what they are calling a na­tional week of ac­tion, be­ing de­scribed as the largest mo­bi­liza­tion of cau­cus since the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion.

“It’s fo­cused on mak­ing sure we go home with one mes­sage,” said Lib­eral MP Ruby Sa­hota, the On­tario cau­cus chair.

The planned pa­rade of the Lib­eral great­est hits, where you can ex­pect to hear a lot about the Canada Child Ben­e­fit, is meant to mark the mid­way point of the four-year man­date.

“I think a mid­way point is al­ways a good time to step back and re­flect,” said Sa­hota, who rep­re­sents the Greater Toronto Area rid­ing of Bramp­ton North. “What prom­ises have we been able to keep? Which ones do we still have to work at?”

The cam­paign will have a high par­tic­i­pa­tion rate, but sev­eral MPs noted that spend­ing time with con­stituents is just part of what they would be do­ing on any other week back in the rid­ing.

“Peo­ple don’t need to tell me I need to breathe in and breathe out,” said Mon­treal MP Ni­cola Di Io­rio (Saint-Leonard — Sain­tMichel).

Toronto MP Rob Oliphant said he has the feel­ing the party lead­er­ship is pay­ing a lit­tle more at­ten­tion to what is hap­pen­ing this week than usual.

“They are cer­tainly, for some rea­son, seem­ing this week to feel anx­ious,” said Oliphant (Don Val­ley West), adding that some staffers think MPs need to be en­cour­aged to do their jobs.

“I just say I am do­ing my con­stituency work the way I al­ways do it.”

Rather than sell­ing the Lib­eral track record, Oliphant said he would pre­fer to find out what peo­ple in his rid­ing think of it in the first place.

“I talk in Ot­tawa and I lis­ten at home,” he said.

As stan­dard as knock­ing on doors and hear­ing from vot­ers at town hall-style events might be, the Lib­eral party keeps close tabs on what its MPs are up to back in their rid­ings — in­clud­ing on so­cial me­dia.

And that could end up play­ing a role in de­cid­ing whether they get to keep do­ing it.

Dur­ing the Lib­eral lead­er­ship race, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau promised to hold open nom­i­na­tions for lo­cal can­di­dates in fed­eral rid­ings, mean­ing even in­cum­bents would have to fight for the right to keep their name on the bal­lot in 2019.

But there have been ques­tions about just how com­mit­ted Trudeau was to that pledge, as some would-be con­tenders have ac­cused the Lib­eral lead­er­ship of play­ing favourites or have been barred from run­ning.

As the 2015 vic­tory be­gan fad­ing into mem­ory, in­cum­bent Lib­eral MPs started grum­bling about the pos­si­bil­ity of fac­ing an in­ter­nal fight in their own rid­ings, so the party launched a con­sul­ta­tion process with cau­cus and for­mer can­di­dates to find a com­pro­mise.

One MP who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity said that based on the con­sul­ta­tions so far, the party will likely mea­sure whether an in­cum­bent de­serves to be pro­tected from hav­ing their nom­i­na­tion chal­lenged through a com­bi­na­tion of so­cial me­dia pres­ence, the num­ber of doors they knocked on and fundrais­ing.

The rec­om­men­da­tions are ex­pected ahead of the Lib­eral party con­ven­tion next April.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.