Over the past few months, the BC Liberal Party has been releasing candidate-specific, feel good propaganda videos in the “Meet the Insert Name” video series presumably in an attempt to make the candidates for the party of health firings, “Triple Delete”, “Quick Wins”, unlimited big money donation, Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt, Kinder Morgan etc. appear largely more human and sympathetic. The videos all largely share the same format: soothing elevator music playing while the candidate talks about themselves, their accomplishments, and what they stand for and represent over a combination of video montages and still photographs. This past week it was Linda Reimer, the incumbent MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam’s turn. Here’s the video as posted on the BC Liberal official party website and released on April 2, 2017 (Spoiler: be sure watch it right to the end).
So did you catch that near the end?
At 1:41 she says “Because I felt fortunate, when I look at people whose lives aren’t as good as mine, I have a great tolerance and understanding of them” (emphasis mine).
Here’s the last part again, clipped.
And yes she did say tolerance. She literally said that she tolerates those less fortunate than her. Quite unbelievable really.
For a party that is trying to shake the perception of being the uncaring party of the rich and entitled, the party of the bus pass clawbacks, the party that refuses to substantially raise fixed income rates, etc., it is hard to believe that this tone deaf statement to the plight of those less fortunate didn’t hit the cutting room floor. Think about that for a second, irrespective of the candidate earnestly saying it and believing it (which is another thing altogether), this statement would have had to make it past, the video director, the campaign manager, and then ultimately through the BC Liberal Party’s own vetting services before being posted on the party website. All of these different potential opportunities for someone to raise their hand and say, “Linda, you can’t say that even if you believe that” or “Oh Linda, that really could be misinterpreted” and nobody, not one person, stepped up to say no? What exactly does that say about the candidate, the candidate’s campaign, and ultimately the party infrastructure itself? It says that everyone involved sees absolutely nothing wrong with that particular statement. As someone on social media pointed out, this is not an off-hand, off-camera quip that was captured clandestinely on tape. This is a presumably fully vetted official campaign video presumably full approved and vetted by the party brass and the party’s highly paid communication gurus/experts.
The release of the clipped video understandably caused a swirl of controversy on social media. Here’s a few select comments that were posted:
Not exactly the type of publicity what you would be hoping for if you were running the re-election campaign.
Subsequent to the initial fury caused on social media, the candidate’s campaign manager and the Director of Issues Management for the BC Government took to social media to express their displeasure with the BC Green Party (singling out them for some reason which was curious as they clearly were not alone on this expressing criticism) both saying below that tolerance is a good quality.
Why yes it is, but tolerance implies that what ever you are tolerating is unpleasant at worst and something that you don’t agree with (at a minimum). Tolerance does not imply in any way, sympathy or empathy. Not one bit.
Here’s the definition of tolerance for those who may still be confused.
Talk about doubling down (very typical of the BC Liberal Party when faced with anything that doesn’t make them look bad) and not realizing the magnitude or the essence of the error in posting that particular comment as part of the video.
So rather than taking the video down, taking your lumps, and apologizing for the quite obvious faux pas, the candidate, the candidate’s campaign manager, and the BC Liberal party itself appear to be quite content with letting the video stand as is, thereby representing a testament to the tone death nature of the BC Liberal Party to those less fortunate and a testament to the arrogance of a party that can do no wrong. The election hasn’t even started yet and the Reimer campaign already has one major misstep under its belt. Well done folks.
All in all, the ultimate goal of campaign videos such as these is to raise the awareness of the candidate. To that end, one could argue that the video did achieve that goal but clearly not in the way that the video was originally intended. I’m sorry but the statement “there is no such thing as bad publicity” does not apply to election campaigns, especially for a candidate in a riding that was only won by 437 votes. In a tight race, an incident like this in isolation could be enough to cost you the election. Not a great start to the campaign for the BC Liberals in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. That’s for sure. We’ll have to see if this is an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern of campaign gaffs as the campaign moves forward. Given the response to this incident, I am suspecting that latter will be more likely true rather than the former.
Edit (April 12, 2017): Subsequent to the publishing of the original post Press Progress picked up on Ms. Reimer’s comments and included them as part of a post on the attitudes of the BC Liberals to those less fortunate (AKA the tolerated). Good to see that Ms. Reimer’s video and comments are getting national attention.