Friday, November 14, 2008

Tory Trolls

Online articles about the leadership race have interesting comments sections. The first two or three comments tend to be aggressively anti-Rae. A case in point today: The first two comments are "Give it up Bob. Save us the grief." and "Nothing illustrates how out of touch Bob Rae is than his own self image."

These nimble fingered anti-Bobbites who seem always poised to complain about him as soon as an article is published, who are they? There are some common characteristics: they get their comments at the top (the Globe shows earliest comments first), often within a few minutes of publication. They write very brief comments; you might almost call them sound bites. And they generally do not directly relate to the article (for example, nothing in the article had to do with Bob Rae being in touch or having an ego).

I think it's reasonable to assume that they're paid Conservative operatives, working to (1) interfere with our leadership selection process and (2) begin the process of undermining the next leader. It is really unfortunate that the current Conservative party has no scruples and no respect for democracy. They seem to have adopted the Nixon playbook of Dirty Tricks. The MP boasting (below) about keeping Bob Rae from becoming our leader in the last leadership race is now Minister of Canadian Heritage & Official Languages.

Here is what they admitted to doing last time:
Delighted Tories claim victory with Rae loss


Canadian Press

December 2, 2006 at 4:10 PM EST

MONTREAL — A gaggle of beaming Conservative operatives waited mere minutes after Bob Rae was knocked out of the Liberal leadership race before boasting about the role they played in the former Ontario premier's defeat.

Just seconds after Mr. Rae was knocked out, a prominent Tory MP wandering the convention floor pulled out a handful of buttons mocking Mr. Rae and winked mischievously.

“There's a reason we handed out so many of these,” said B.C. MP James Moore, pointing to buttons that ridiculed Mr. Rae's track record as Ontario premier.

“They (Liberals) don't know how to play poker. . . The NDP is also feeling happy right now.”

In recent months some leading Tories admitted privately that Mr. Rae was the Liberal candidate they feared the most.

Their admissions became public the instant Rae was eliminated from the race.

One Tory operative described how a handful of government supporters proliferated at Liberal parties throughout Montreal on Friday evening and handed out anti-Rae buttons.

“Make Bob the first NDP prime minister,” one button said.

Another button aimed at underlining Mr. Rae's tumultuous time in Ontario said: “Vote Bob. Who needs Ontario?”

The party made similar buttons for all the other candidates — but it was mainly for show. Rae was their main target, said a government official.

“There were hundreds of Liberals wearing those (Rae) buttons when they went to vote today,” he said.

“It was great to watch.”

One Conservative aide took pride in pointing out that his party fabricated an internal party memo suggesting their troops were most afraid of Michael Ignatieff — and most anxious to face Mr. Rae.

The ersatz memo was leaked to a pair of English- and French-language newspapers and ran under headlines that cast it as a behind-the-scenes peek at Tory strategy.

The name of Tory campaign chair Doug Finley, the supposed author of the memo, was stamped on the document as an afterthought.

The Tories then made arrangements to get the memo leaked through a third party to English and French newspapers, Tory sources said.


Anonymous said...

Well, it's a good thing that there are never any hyper partisan Liberal trolls posting to those threads...wait, what?

Yappa said...

Anon 11:21 -

Liberals writing about internal Liberal politics, OMG can someone please call the RCMP???

Anonymous said...

I suspect that they didn't really fear Bob, and had attack ads at the ready in case he won, similar to the ads they had on Dion. The candidate the conservatives really fear is Iggy. (Haven't Liberals figured out by now that when Conservatives try to tell you something, you should believe the exact opposite?)

Yappa said...

To Anon at 12:03 -

Thanks for your comment.

It doesn't matter whether they most fear Ignatieff or Rae. For one thing, who they feared most last time may not be who they fear most this time. Ignatieff was a neophyte last time and now has a couple of years of intensive experience. The most important criticism of him last time was that he was unproven; by the end of this leadership race, I think we can agree that he has proven himself one way or the other.

In addition, I don't care who they fear most. Their estimation of their biggest threat is not a useful criterion for how we decide who would be the best leader and best PM. Not only will we never know the truth (as you say), but they will have different opinions, just as we do.

Also, I don't know that their shennanigans last time made any difference whatsoever to the final outcome. They probably didn't. I have heard people who were there say that they treated all the anti-Rae buttons as a joke.

My point is that we need to be more aware of their dirty tricks and call them on them. I am outraged that they interfered in the last Liberal convention and even boasted about it, and I'm outraged that they weren't pilloried in the press for doing it. The Harper Conservatives are using all sorts of dirty tricks, including messing in our internal party processes, and we should be showing the entire country just how unprincipled and unethical they are.

And by the way, the fact that I support Rae does not mean that I do not support Ignatieff. If Rae weren't running I would be with Ignatieff.

RuralSandi said...

Fact is - the CPC will have vile attack packages for each of the candidates.

Intertesting to see what they'll try to come up with for LeBlanc. I haven't heard of any baggage about him yet, but, hey, the CPC will come up with something.

You see, the CPC just can't seem to win over Canadians with the views and policies so attack is all they have - speaks volumes doesn't it?

Northern PoV said...

Virtually all the comment threads at major CDN sites are now dominated by the type of trolls you mention.

Take heart, they become sooo boring that everyone (except the trolls) will or has already stopped reading them.

Anonymous said...

yes we can to justice and equality.

Yappa said...

Hi northern pov -

I disagree that they become boring. I think they have a huge impact as long as people think they're just normal folks. They're one of the most effective smear campaign tactics ever and that's why we have to keep exposing them.

And I know it goes on. When I lived in Ottawa I worked with the wife of a political operative, and she told us all sorts of stories about her husband and his colleagues. They would try to dominate phone-ins like Crosscountry Checkup. The phone-in people knew his name and phone number, so he'd have to use other people's phones and fake names. She claimed that on some phone-ins, every caller was a spin doctor for one party or another.

Anonymous said...

Hey ruralsandi, the first thing that comes to mind about LeBlanc is stay away from the cheese doodles. Dude, your packing too many pounds, and regardless of what comes out of your mouth, all anyone thinks about is "geez he looks like a pear!"
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