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)

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.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual interference in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Recently elected NDP MLA Kelli Paddon is funding three $500 scholarships for students demonstrating a commitment to equity and social change. (Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon funding Equity and Social Change Scholarships

One of the scholarships is open to any graduating student in the Chilliwack-Kent electoral district

Richard Procee is one of four candidates in the Feb. 13, 2021 Chilliwack school board byelection. Here, he poses at his store in 2017. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
VIDEO: Byelection candidate Richard Procee hopes to ‘introduce good conversation’ to Chilliwack school board

Procee discusses his involvement with his church, views on SOGI 123 and politics

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read