Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl has been bold in Parliament of late and his criticism of the Liberal government will only grow in the coming months as a federal election is just five months away. (File photo)

OPINION: Electioneering via press release

Federal voting day is five months off but early campaigning is underway

Many years ago when Chuck Strahl was the MP for Chilliwack-Hope (back when it was Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon) we used to occasionally chat over the phone from Ottawa about what he was up to.

I was at the Times and Strahl would hold a little conference call with myself and long-time Progress reporter Robert Freeman, who has since retired.

Strahl would update us on what he had been doing, and I would write up a little “Check in with Chuck.”

Now that Mark is our MP, I don’t check in with him in that way and while I think it was a useful public service to update constituents in that way, I’m certainly not suggesting here, to Mark, that it be resurrected. My world is just too busy these days.

In the coming months, however, I think we may just start to hear more and more from the younger Mr. Strahl. A federal election is five months away, but the electioneering always begins in an unofficial capacity long before then.

As an example, federal Liberal MPs are a rarity in this neck of the woods. Yet in 2019, we’ve already had two visits each from Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Jati Sidhu and Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

• READ MORE: VIDEO: Feds announce $45 million for flood mitigation near Chilliwack

• READ MORE: Q&A with federal Liberal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Strahl, too, has been connecting with the media more often by sending out more press releases of late. He doesn’t send out a lot of message in general, and they are often about a very specific issue, yet a couple of them this past week give me that election feeling.

I think he’s sent out eight so far in 2019, a couple critical of the Prime Minster for the SNC-Lavalin affair, one championing Acromegaly Awareness Day on behalf of a constituent. One was a reminder to organizations to apply for funding through the New Horizons for Seniors Program. (Sorry I didn’t tell people about that one… until now.)

But two releases he sent this past week seem deliberately intended to rile up his base.

One was about human trafficking, the other about child abuse. Both stir up emotions on the issue of sexual abuse of children, which is a topic that gets people as angry as anything. “Pedophile” is about the worst epithet you can hurl at someone, and the impassioned response we get at the newspaper regarding court coverage of trials and sentences of child sex offenders is off the charts.

“Across Canada, from small towns to big cities, we’re seeing a concerning and disturbing rise in human trafficking,” Strahl said in a May 22 press release. “Of course, many of the victims are children. Preying on society’s most vulnerable is truly despicable.”

Then this week: “It’s utterly horrific that as other types of crime are trending downward in this country, sexual offences against children are on the rise. Despite this fact, over the past four years the Liberals have not introduced any new legislation for child sexual offences.”

And therein lies the electioneering kicker. Do you support pedophiles? If not, vote Conservative.

On the one hand, this reeks of populism and dangling low-hanging fruit to the masses. On the other hand, he sure has a point. The issues are real, and tragic, and horrific.

The backstop for the missives is what the Conservatives call their plan for “A Safer Canada.”

“The current Liberal government has failed to combat human trafficking.” And, “[O]ver the past four years the Liberals have not introduced any new legislation for child sexual offences.”

This is pure politics, and it may just work. Whether the Conservative plan is implementable at all is uncertain. I’m not sure some of party leader Andrew Scheer’s promises wouldn’t violate Charter protections, and few details are out there yet anyway.

Local candidates are at the ready. The parties are tapping in to emotions, fears, hopes, and they will be looking to gain support by politicizing every corner of your world.

The election is a long ways off, but the unofficial campaign is well underway. I suppose in some ways, it never ends.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Therapists, children with disabilities learn from each other at Therapy Camp in Chilliwack

Fraser Valley Child Development Centre’s summer camp connects children with disabilities and therapists

PHOTO: Add flavour to your weekend with the Chilliwack Garlic Festival

The annual garlicky event runs Saturday and Sunday at Fantasy Farms

Fleeing helicopter that landed in Chilliwack part of major cross-border drug bust: documents

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vedder Rotary trail network in Chilliwack will be closed for five days on the south side

The upgrade will take until Friday so trail users asked to take alternate routes

VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Wink, Blink and Nod at the Chilliwack SPCA

These three male tabby cats are some of many kittens up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Border crossings across Lower Mainland seeing lengthy delays

Sumas, Peace Arch and Surrey-Blaine border crossings seeing long wait times

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read