By Alex Schadenburg in London, Ontario and Steve Jalsevac

  Conservatives in London-North-Centre must be wondering how popular former London mayor Dianne Haskett ended up finishing in third place in the Nov. 27 federal by-election. The many active and well organized social conservatives in the riding were also dismayed by the poor showing of the star Conservative candidate. Haskett had in the past proven that her pro-life, pro-family Christian principles were not a hindrance to being elected.

  There are many reasons why Dianne didn’t win. The greater question is how could she have unexpectedly come in so far behind Liberal Glen Pearson, and even worse, why did she finish behind Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party which has never elected a candidate to Parliament?


  London-North-Centre has been a liberal strong-hold since Liberal Joe Fontana won against Progressive Conservative Jim Jepson in 1988. This was not an easy riding for a Conservative to win. Given that, Dianne Haskett was a very popular mayor in London who handily won her last election in 1997.

  Dianne Haskett was certainly capable of beating Liberal Glen Pearson.


  Dianne Haskett was overly managed by a team of strategists from Conservative Party headquarters. There were rumours well before the election that this is just what the party would do in the riding.

  The negative outcome is a very important message for the Conservative Party. Voters in London-North-Centre weren’t excited about Stephen Harper, but they might have become excited about Dianne Haskett. The only problem with the Haskett campaign is that the Conservative strategists were busy downplaying Dianne Haskett and emphasizing the Conservative Party.

  This was a huge error. If this riding was going to be won by Dianne Haskett, it would have been won by focusing on her and not the party.

  The second problem with the Conservative strategists is that they didn’t realize it remains a small town to many people. If you want to get a team of volunteers to work on your campaign, you need to work with a local team.

  There were constant complaints that there weren’t enough volunteers helping Dianne ‘s campaign. If the local leaders had a greater presence in the campaign, they would have been better able to encourage the grass-roots to come out and volunteer.

Third – Dianne Haskett refused to answer questionnaires

  The beginning of the end for Dianne was when she refused to answer the local Citizen Impact organization’s questionnaire. Every candidate, except Dianne, answered the questionnaire. Citizen Impact distributed the results of the questionnaire in 10,000 voters’ guides to London-North-Centre churches as a way of informing them about their issues of top concern.

  Dianne is a believing Christian and her constituency was denied the opportunity to learn about her positions on crucial issues such as: abortion, euthanasia, marriage, informed consent, conscience legislation, child pornography and funding for special interest groups. Many Christians in London have indicated that they determine how they vote based on the results of the Citizen Impact voters’ guide and Dianne ‘s positions on these questions were missing.

  Dianne explicitly told a few persons who presented her with life and family issue questionnaires that the Conservative Party instructed her she was not allowed to sign questionnaires. It was as though they were embarrassed that Dianne was a Christian and a social conservative.

  Dianne also refused to answer other questionnaires, such as the City of London and Campaign Life Coalition questionnaires. Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) wanted to mail the results to their several hundred supporter families and to the churches in the region. CLC would also have broadcast a telephone message of support for Dianne to all those families – if she had completed the life issues questionnaire according to her pro-life beliefs.

  By not answering the Citizen Impact or Campaign Life Coalition questionnaires Dianne failed to encourage people of similar beliefs to come out and work on her campaign or even to vote for her.

  The Green Party was able to gain many of the voters who should have voted for Diane, since Dianne didn’t seek their vote by answering the questionnaire.

Fourth – Getting out the vote

  The way to win any election is by knocking on doors, working the phones, putting up signs, and being seen in places where people go.

  The Liberals, Greens and NDP completely won the sign campaign. The Haskett sign campaign was a failure. The same three parties knocked on doors during the campaign. Winning an election campaign is hard work.

  The work simply wasn’t done by the Haskett campaign.

  The Conservative strategists appeared to have been so busy talking about what they should do that the work that needed to be done, wasn’t done. Several volunteers stated that the campaign was over managed with too few workers. Once again, did the lack of willingness to answer the questionnaire affect the number of volunteers?

  A pro-life associate who was helping to put up signs was being told by the Conservative strategists where to put up signs. His comment was simple. “I have lived in London all of my life, I have run a sign campaign before. I know where to put up the signs.”

  Dianne should have won this election and she can win the next election.