Boldly going where many political fundraisers have gone before

Star Trek

Justin Trudeau, it seems your reach has exceeded your grasp.

While his ambitions rocketed towards the stars, the Liberal fundraising numbers — while still far from the anemic penny-counting of their darkest days — have not hit their mark.

On December fourth, in one of the shark jump-iest emails ever sent out, Marc Garneau encouraged Liberal members to give the greatest Christmas gift of all — money to a political party.

Friend [Your name here], it began.  When you’re strapped into a rocket about to hurtle into space, and the countdown begins, a kind of serenity kicks in.  Yes, Marc, we get it.  You went to space.  Stop rubbing it in, eh?

Anyhow, the long-and-short of the email is that the Liberal’s December fundraising campaign is exactly like being shot into space in a rocket, because they’re asking for a million dollars.

Canadians know this feeling — we built this country by taking chances; yes, by venturing into the unknown. And now, that’s what I’m asking of you.

The unknown, as it turns out, is giving $3 to a century-old political party — just 75 cents after the absurdly generous tax credit!  And if you give, you will be making history as I did when I thundered upwards into the heavens.  Gag.

At that point, they’d already raised $152 thousand.  If you extrapolate that, it seems pretty obvious that they would hit their goal. How couldn’t they?  If you donated, you were entered to win one of 12 limited edition Justin Trudeau scarfs.  (There is even a gif featuring a woman dancing while wearing the scarf, in case you do not know what a scarf is, what it does, or how much dancing it induces.)  But that’s not the best part — you would also have a chance to win a dinner with Justin.  Swoon.

Anyway, putting aside — as Trudeau once explained to me — the cynicism of my chosen profession, this was a pretty ambitious goal.  A million dollars in just under two weeks.  Blastoff.

Yet as the campaign worn on, the tone of the emails betrayed a frantic desperation.  Urgent: this is for Justin, reads one subject line from party president and noted Sheila Copps-defeater, Mike Crawley.  He informs the membership that they need this money to out fundraise the Conservatives.  They’re going to spend their money attacking Justin, he laments.

Then they played good cop — Thankful, was the subject of one email.  Then it was bad cop, co-chair of the Aboriginal Peoples Commission for the party: I dare you, she wrote.  Never forget: sadness unspoken only leads to frustration, anger and despair.  But despair can be changed into hope when you speak up for what you believe in.

It’s unclear to me whether she was crassly channeling Jack Layton in an appeal for money — or, as she calls it, voice — or whether she was rendering homage to Yoda (“Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.”)  Either way.

Next was the big guns — Paul Martin.

Friend — [your name here.]

When we were fighting the deficit in the 1990s, we didn’t worry about the polls.  We didn’t worry about the optics.  (Evidently not, or else the fall guy for the Sponsorship Scandal wouldn’t be sending out a plea for money amidst a spending scandal in the Prime Minister’s Office.)  And we certainly didn’t spend millions of taxpayer dollars on ads to buy public support for our budgets.  (In 2002-2003, the Liberals spent $111 million on government advertising, whereas the Harper government has budgeted $64 million for this year.)

But, anyway.

The final pitch came later that evening from Trudeau himself. We’ve got to hit a million, he wrote. Friend, this is it.

This is it.

Well, the rocket ran out of fuel somewhere in the stratosphere, because the counter has topped out a few thousand shy of $700,000, as of the time of writing.  The Liberals only have until midnight to hang their members upside down and shake them until $300,000 in small change comes out.

Well, unless the Liberals have rigged the counter to hold off on the influx of donations they’ve gotten in recent days to feign necessity, and to try and establish a narrative of last-minute momentum, they won’t be meeting their goal.  And Canada, ostensibly, will slide into the hell fire from wence it came, doomed to be a scribbled footnote in the annals of history, written off as a failed state of no real significance or merit.

That was it.  And we didn’t give the Liberals enough money.  What a shame.


Other articles by Justin Ling

Stephen Harper – The Seeker

The Taming of the Prime Minister

Harper’s Lincoln Continental

The last MP out can turn off the light

Follow Justin Ling on twitter: @Justin_Ling


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