Canadian BlogBursts Focus on Tories For Ordering Candidates to Refuse Questionnaires

By Hilary White

  TORONTO, December 1, 2006 ( – One blogger prompts another, who prompts six more and so on and so on…

  The internet is coming into its own as a power with more and more citizens taking on the challenges of democracy on private websites and blogs. Sometimes called “citizen journalists,” bloggers have begun to realize some of the power that lies in their hands, especially when they get together.

  Canadian pro-life blogger, Susanne Fortin, was the instigator of the highly successful “blogburst” that helped bring about significant reductions in public funding for the far-left feminist government agency, Status of Women.

  This time, Fortin and her blogger colleagues have turned their grassroots sites on the Tory party itself that has been pressuring its candidates to refuse to answer questionnaires.
  Fortin’s blogburst has resulted in at least 16 different posts including one in French, calling on the federal Tories to allow candidates and MP’s to respond to citizen questionnaires on issues of importance to pro-life and pro-family Canadians.

  The federal Conservative Party has denied it but it is becoming increasingly clear that their unwritten policy is that candidates must not respond to questionnaires that would reveal a pro-life stand or traditional moral values.

  Evidence of this policy came in the last federal election but was more recently revealed during the federal by-election campaign of Dianne Haskett for the riding of London North Centre.

  Haskett is well known for her strong pro-life and pro-family views, but she told a local lobby group, Citizen Impact, that she would not respond to questionnaires on life and family issues. She said she preferred to answer questions “with my own voice.”

  Haskett, who placed a distant third behind the Green party candidate, had told the London Free Press that she had come to the decision on her own, but she admitted to some individuals that she had been bowing to pressure from the party.

  On the 16 posts of the Big Blue Wave blogburst, many are indicating their frustration with Tory policies that, they say, give lip service only to socially conservative issues.

  Most agree that questionnaires are an invaluable tool to increase public awareness of candidates positions and say that to suppress that information is anti-democratic, a hard indictment for the party that campaigned on promises of a more transparent and accountable government.

  One titled her blog post with a clear message to the party: “Why I am not renewing my membership to the Conservative Party of Canada.” Dianne, at the blog Family Matters, said bluntly, “I do not respect candidates that are not willing to tell me where they stand on moral matters.”

  The author of “Smok Wawelski’s Cave” titled his post “Cards On the Table, Please, Mr Harper” and called the policy “politically stupid.” He said, “keeping candidates muzzled is a good way of ensuring you will not get my vote.”

“There are many social conservatives who are getting the impression the Tory hidden agenda is to put on just enough on the so-con cologne when and where it suits them, giving off just enough of a scent to give false hope to pro-life voters.”

  John Pacheco at So-Con or Bust, warned Stephen Harper that if he did not “let the democratic process play out” the Conservatives could face the same kind of turn-around as the US Republicans suffered on November 7th.

”…for some inexplicable reason, he turns from blue to yellow when it comes to standing up for basic free speech on the question of abortion,” Pacheco wrote.

  Tories strategists so far appear to be completely dismissing the growing protests about their draconian muzzling of social conservative candidates. In fact, has been advised by more than one source the party has decided that in the next election it will enforce its no questionnaires rule for all candidates, including all current MPs.

  That should be interesting, to say the least.

  Visit Big Blue Wave:

  Read some of the blogburst posts:
  So-Con or Bust
  The Abortion Questionnaire: The Last Frontier

  Deborah Gyapong
  Why the Tory didn’t win in London

  Patrick O’Neil’s Pointed Pen
  Harper’s Achilles Heel?

  Read related coverage:
  Beginning of End of Conservative Dianne Haskett’s Campaign Was When She Refused to Answer Questionnaires

  Grassroots Blogger Reaction against Canada’s Status of Women Prompts Media Action

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