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October 08, 2008

Dean Del Mastro's Latest Campaign Brochure: Three False Claims Plus Two Attack Ads

I spent last evening at Electionfest -- a meet-the-candidates event hosted by Peterborough This Week (aka myKawartha.com).

The four candidates from the mainstream parties were in attendance: Emily Berrigan (Green Party), Dean Del Mastro (Conservative Party of Canada), Betsy McGregor (Liberal), and Steve Sharpe (NDP).

Dean Del Mastro had a model GO train set up in his booth, complete with miniature Dean Del Mastro advertisements stuck to the side of the train. Someone in Del Mastro's booth kept blowing the most annoying train whistle imaginable. (It wasn't Del Mastro himself, because the train whistle kept intruding on people's thought processes throughout the entire evening, while Del Mastro himself sauntered in fashionably late.)

The crowds at the event were a little bit light, but that may be because everyone in Peterborough has pretty much been all-candidate-meeting-ed to death. (Can you believe that the four candidates in our riding have now survived 17 all-candidates debates -- and they still have two left to go?) But for the political junkies who did choose to attend, it was a chance to meet the candidates one-on-one and hear them speak frankly about the issues that matter most to them.

I was once again very impressed by the sincerity and honesty of Berrigan, McGregor, and Sharpe.

And as for Del Mastro?

I'll get to him in a moment.

I had a great time at the event, chatting with the staff of Peterborough This Week (although I was quite bummed that Mike Lacey couldn't make it out because I wanted to meet the man behind the blog). I was having such a great time that I shook hands with Dean Del Mastro's communications manager and I was seriously thinking about walking over to Del Mastro's booth to say something pleasant to two other members of his team that I recognized from the arts funding cuts meeting from earlier in the campaign (Del Mastro's campaign manager and the mystery man who had been carrying the tape recorder), but two things made me change my mind

1. I heard Del Mastro give a senior citizen in our community his "personal guarantee" that the train would be coming to Peterborough (something that seemed like a bit of a bit of a stretch of the truth at this point to me);

2. Someone handed me a copy of a brochure that Del Mastro was distributing at the meeting and I was appalled to see that the brochure -- and I was afraid that I'd start verbally "blogging" the brochure to Del Mastro himself. (I figured this would be a major breach of Electionfest etiquette so I decided to steer clear of Del Mastro and save my comments until I got back to my keyboard.)

So here goes.

When I say the brochure is full of mistruths, I'm not exaggerating in the least.

Img_6816 The brochure makes three statements; and all three statements are totally false and designed to deceive voters by misrepresenting the facts about the Liberal campaign.

It's depressing, I know. Heartbreaking, actually, if, like me, you believe that all political campaign materials should be fact-checked for accuracy before they are released to the public.

Anyway, back to the brochure. Let me walk you through these last-minute attempts to manipulate the voters of Peterborough Riding one by one.

DECEPTION NUMBER ONE: The brochure states that Dion "wants a higher GST."

It has been common knowledge since September 8 that this statement is totally false. That's when Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon were caught twisting the facts about Dion's plans for the GST while out on the campaign trail. The Liberal Party issued the following clarification of the facts:

THE TRUTH: The Liberals have no plans to raise the GST. Period.

Why is Dean Del Mastro continuing to spread this type of misinformation a month after his fellow Conservatives were publicly called out for lying about these very same facts?

DECEPTION NUMBER TWO: The brochure states that Dion "wants to scrap your child care benefit."

Once again, it has been common knowledge since September 8 that this statement is totally false. That's when Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon were caught misrepresenting the truth about Dion's child care program plans while out on the campaign trail. The Liberal Party issued the following clarification of the facts at the time:

THE TRUTH: "The Liberals will maintain this benefit and will augment it with real support to create quality child care spaces." Then, on September 17, the Liberal Party elaborated on its plans:

"Today’s announcement is in addition to a commitment that a new Liberal government will maintain the $100-a-month cheques that families have come to rely on, and will introduce a new refundable child tax credit worth $350 to families for every child under 18.
A new Liberal government will also provide up to an additional $1 225 per year to low-income families with children under 18. Low-income families will keep every penny of this new Guaranteed Family Supplement which will be paid out monthly.
(Childcare background document, available for download from Liberal.ca.)

Once again, why is Peterborough's Member of Parliament continuing to spread this type of misinformation a month after his colleagues were publicly called out for the same type of unethical behavior?

DECEPTION NUMBER THREE: "Dion wants a new tax on everything."

THE TRUTH: This statement is a gross and inaccurate oversimplification of what the Green Shift program is all about. The simple truth is that Green shift taxes what you burn, not what you earn. (Find out more at TheGreenshift.ca.) Dean Del Mastro has already been caught spreading inaccurate information about this program -- something that does not reflect well on Peterborough Riding.* (Just to refresh your memory, on September 23, 2008, at an all-candidates debate at Curve Lake First Nation, Mr. Del Mastro, the Conservative candidate for Peterborough, claimed that the Liberal Green Shift is “the big red hand of Stéphane Dion that’s about to reach into your pocket and tear money out of it for everything that First Nations need. That’s an end run around your treaty right," Peterborough Examiner, September 24, 2008.)

The Toronto Star recently called Stephen Harper to task for trying to deceive Canadians about the Green Shift during the federal leaders debate: "By wilfully distorting Dion's written program, Harper deliberately misled the Canadians whose trust he is seeking in this campaign."

Likewise, by distributing a brochure which repeats the same mistruths about the Liberal Party's program, Dean Del Mastro is demonstrating that he will follow unquestioningly in his leader's footsteps, even when conscience and good judgment should be telling him to refuse to go along with this cheap political ruse.

"For better or for worse, debates offer the party leaders a chance to inform – or misinform – voters about a campaign's key issues," wrote The Toronto Star in reference to Harper's deceit. "Whether a politician chooses to do the former, or the latter, speaks volumes about their character and trustworthiness."

The same can be said, I believe, about campaigns and backbenchers. Dean Del Mastro has taught us everything we need to know to vote wisely in this election.

* Back in the summer, his highly "green sh*t" jokes attracted the attention of Macleans.ca. It's great to have Peterborough in the national spotlight, but wouldn't it be great to have our riding in the spotlight in a positive way?

Related:
Peterborough Examiner: Riding deserves better: "I moved from Peterborough back to Toronto for one reason, we could not get a family doctor and had no prospect of ever getting one. A train station, five or 10 years down the road as Dean Del Mastro promises, means little to seniors who are concerned about their own life now."
- Jim Purdie, Toronto

Peterborough Examiner: Wrong on crime: " The article quoted MP Dean Del Mastro as saying it was time "to stop this whole notion of rehabilitation and reintegration" and "it's so easy, if somebody's bad that's what we have prisons for." This attitude reflects the Conservatives' "tough on crime" policies. Sounds so simple. Except it doesn't reduce crime."
- Peter Ouimet, President, Peterborough Community Chaplaincy

Peterborough Examiner: Just a lot of talk: "In response to W. E. Dunk, who wrote that Dean Del Mastro, "Has done a good job as our MP," I ask a simple question: What has he done other than talk?"
- Allan R. Crowe, Peterborough
Peterborough Examiner: No leadership on environment: "Mr. Harper ridicules the efforts of other parties to provide leadership and hope for future generations and he offers nothing in response. Global warming is accelerating at an unexpectedly rapid pace and we do not have time to waste another four years without responsible leadership!"
- Stephan Ragaz, Peterborough

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Del Mastro supports pro-life positions and is against same-sex marriage. He voted in favour of revisiting the same-sex marriage issue. Del Mastro is a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and the Canadian Heritage Commitee.


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