Singh’s Lack of Cents

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Money might be the root of all evil, but in politics, it’s also the root of all success.

After all, without money a political campaign can’t do all the stuff political campaigns must do to win elections, i.e. pay to commission polls, rent office space, hire staffers, purchase lawns signs, buy media ads, etc.

Yes, I know this should be extremely self-evident; and believe me, I wouldn’t even be bringing this topic up, if it weren’t for the fact that one federal party leader in this country doesn’t seem to understand the important role money plays in politics.

I’m talking about NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

From what I’ve seen so far from this guy, fundraising, i.e. shaking dollars out of the wallets of party donors, seems to be extremely low on his priority list.

As a matter of fact, according to one recent media report, Singh has only attended one fundraising event this year.

One!

To me, that’s stunningly unbelievable, since fundraising should be a key job for any party leader.

Keep in mind, a party leader is also that party’s main star attraction, and people will pay money to see a star.

Yes, some people might give money to political parties for ideological reasons or in the hopes they will gain some influence, but many people donate simply for access; they want face time with the leader.

Why? Because it gives a donor status within his or her social group.

To see what I mean, imagine the following conversation:

Joe: Hey, last week I had lunch with Andrew Scheer.

Bob: Wow!  That’s pretty cool.

Joe: Yeah, (holding up his cell phone) here’s a picture of us standing together.

Of course, what Joe probably won’t tell Bob is that he was joined in that lunch with Scheer by 500 other people who, like him, paid $100 for a ticket.

The point is, Joe looks like a player in the eyes of his friend, which makes the donation to Scheer’s campaign a social investment.

Certainly, the Liberals understand the importance of a leader to fundraising.

If you check out their website, you’ll see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is attending fundraising events all over the country.

Heck, the Liberal Party is even holding a draw for contributors to win a trip for two worth $3,000 on Trudeau’s campaign plane, during this year’s federal election.

Now that’s status.

My point is, Trudeau is a star, and the Liberal fundraising strategy is using that stardom to its full advantage.

So why isn’t Singh more actively using his name, his status and his position, to pry dollars out of donors?

True, he isn’t as much of a star as Trudeau (who is?) but within the NDP’s universe, he’s still a luminary.

And it’s not as if he can slough off fundraising duties because his party is flush with cash, since media reports indicate the NDP only raised about $5 million last year, compared to the Conservatives who raised about $26 million.

The only guess I can come up with to explain Singh’s reluctance to do fundraising, is that he just doesn’t like to do it.

And he surely wouldn’t be the first politician to dislike the job of fundraising.

In point of fact, many politicians hate the idea of “panhandling” for donations, they find it demeaning, if not outright embarrassing.

I’ve certainly worked for politicians of that mindset.

They usually prefer the loftier aspects of politics – devising important policy ideas, promoting their ideology, cutting ribbons to open supermarkets – to the mundane, tedious task of asking people for donations at a fundraising event held in a church basement in East Antler, Saskatchewan in the middle of January.

In Singh’s case, he’d probably rather extol the virtues of his “national bike strategy” than hit up party members for cash.

This is why his staffers must keep prodding, cajoling and bullying him to not only attend fundraisers, but also to make phone calls and to write personal letters asking for donations.

Maybe Singh’s staffers won’t do this, or maybe he just won’t listen to them.

I don’t know.

All I do know is Singh’s apparent reluctance to do the nitty-gritty work of fundraising is hurting his party.

Photo Credit: CTV News

More from Gerry Nicholls.     @GerryNic

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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