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    Riding Talk Revisited::Politicians Speak Out About CBC Forums

    by Mark Glaser
    March 13, 2006

    i-c9f035c8382de4f18e06c8d3a3877b72-Aaron Hynes.JPG
    In early February, I looked at an interesting project by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) called Riding Talk, where they provided a moderated forum for each and every riding (electoral district) in Canada before the late January elections. I had hoped to include the thoughts of a few politicians who participated in the forums but I didn’t hear from them until more recently.

    I think the project is a great first step toward some type of open discussion online between voters of every political stripe and local politicians on the real issues of the day — without the spin of consultants or political ads. But even with moderation, there’s the possibility of people spreading disinformation.

    Another problem is that CBC might not have promoted the forums well to the general public, and only the most active political folks participated, leaving out the undecided and moderate voices from the discussions. That’s the view of Aaron Hynes (pictured above), a Conservative Party candidate in the election who finished second in his riding. Hynes stepped into the online discussion, and was mainly impressed

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    “Any means of informing the electorate of the policies, views, records and attributes of electoral candidates or parties is helpful,” he told me via email. “However, I doubt the average voter spends much time online looking for political blogs and discussion groups. It seems to me that the CBC forum you mentioned was mostly used by those who were already engaged in the political process, and already had firm views. Such forums are also susceptible to being used by party activists to publish their own spin, instead of serving as a non-partisan forum for intelligent and objective discussion.”

    I did query Jonathan Dube, editorial director of CBC.ca, but haven’t heard back from him to hear his views on the problem of discussions being hijacked by activists. Dan Harris, a New Democratic Party candidate in Scarborough Southwest who finished third out of six candidates in his riding, told me his only complaint about Riding Talk was that moderation of the forums sometimes slowed them up.

    “Personally I am definitely a fan of any discussions that take place about the local ridings,” Harris told me via email. “There are several websites that were doing this, or having boards to help predict outcomes. You tend to get much more honest commentary on these places, partially because of the pseudo-anonymity and because people are volunteering info rather then getting it pried out of them.

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    “Naturally I would prefer it if we could have unmoderated discussions but I certainly understand the potential legal ramifications so I don’t begrudge the CBC and most other sites making their discussions moderated. A little quicker turnaround would be better. Occasionally it would be a few days before responses were posted, and it kind of interrupts the flow of the discussion.”

    That’s often a problem with so many moderated discussions. If a moderator takes a holiday or is off her computer for a while, the participants are stuck waiting during a hiatus. But overall, Harris is sold on the idea of online forums as a direct communication line to voters.

    “I also appreciated that it gave me another venue where I could contact voters and talk about the issues,” he said. “Oftentimes in election campaigns you’re only able to scrape the surface of most issues. These types of discussion boards offer an opportunity to get a little more in-depth about positions.”

    What do you think about politicians engaging in online forums with constituents? Is this the wave of the future? And how can the people who run forums bring in more voters, especially the undecided voters?

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    • RonPrice

      WRESTLING WITH THE ENEMY

      Poetry can help you to accept the difficult in life. Once you accept the fact that life is difficult, the difficult no longer matters. “To a point, Scott, to a point.”
      -Ron Price with thanks to M. Scott Peck, A Road Less Travelled, 1978, p.15.

      This is not a poetry of political pain,
      prisons, gulags, archipelagos, frozen
      waste, tears melting on the snow and
      nightmare.

      This is no analysis of the mindless
      world of the senses, of distractions,
      never ending youthful desires, of the
      soporifics of the soul, mediocrity and
      gadgetry, the quagmire of consumerism,
      the failure of socialism and communism.

      This is not a poetry of the end justifying
      the means-the only rule of political ethics.
      No comment here about the road to utopia
      paved with tombstones laid by the hands
      of spiritual zombies, littering my decades.

      This is a poetry, the only one I know, a
      shield for my reception of the slings and
      arrows of outrageous fortune, to help me
      wrestle with life as if it were my personal
      enemy and to understand my feelings and
      pleasures, those ever-present companions
      in life which can be destroyed by egos trail.

      Ron Price
      17 January 1998

    • joe

      On the Second Amendment, Dont Believe Obama!

      The presidential primary season is finally over, and it is now time for gun owners to take a careful look at just where apparent nominee Barack Obama stands on issues related to the Second Amendment. During the primaries, Obama tried to hide behind vague statements of support for sportsmen or unfounded claims of general support for the right to keep and bear arms. But his real record, based on votes taken, political associations, and long standing positions, shows that Barack Obama is a serious threat to Second Amendment liberties. Dont listen to his campaign rhetoric! Look instead to what he has said and done during his entire political career.

      FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry. (1)
      FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban. (2)
      FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting. (3)
      FACT: Barack Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership. (2)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports local gun bans in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities. (4)
      FACT: Barack Obama voted to uphold local gun bans and the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense. (5)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports gun owner licensing and gun registration. (6)
      FACT: Barack Obama refused to sign a friend-of-the-court Brief in support of individual Second Amendment rights in the Heller case.
      FACT: Barack Obama opposes Right to Carry laws. (7)
      FACT: Barack Obama was a member of the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation, the leading source of funds for anti-gun organizations and research. (8)
      FACT: Barack Obama supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park, which would eliminate almost every gun store in America. (9)
      FACT: Barack Obama voted not to notify gun owners when the state of Illinois did records searches on them. (10)
      FACT: Barack Obama voted against a measure to lower the Firearms Owners Identification card age minimum from 21 to 18, a measure designed to assist young people in the military. (11)
      FACT: Barack Obama favors a ban on standard capacity magazines. (12)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory micro-stamping. (13)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory waiting periods. (2)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits information on gun traces collected by the BATFE from being used in reckless lawsuits against firearm dealers and manufacturers. (14)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports one-gun-a-month sales restrictions. (9)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on inexpensive handguns. (9)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports a ban on the resale of police issued firearms, even if the money is going to police departments for replacement equipment. (9)
      FACT: Barack Obama supports mandatory firearm training requirements for all gun owners and a ban on gun ownership for persons under the age of 21. (9)

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