Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leadership 2013 Roundup

There's a common theme to the last few days' developments in the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race. While plenty of the campaigns are doing plenty worth talking about, they may have work to do in making sure interested members understand what's happening.

Perhaps most notably, there's the contrast between Erin Weir's focus as the campaign's resident policy wonk, and the focus of his website.

Weir followed up on his potash royalty policy last week with a similar plan for oil and uranium royalties - again offering a proposal to close loopholes which allow corporations to avoid paying royalties for resources extracted from Saskatchewan. But at least for the moment, you won't find Weir's issues section updated to take either of those policies into account.

In fact, unless you know to look for policy under the "news" section, you may be more likely to stumble onto Weir's blog post trumpeting a minor media gaffe than some of his signature policy ideas.

Similarly, the day before the Cannington NDP's annual general meeting (covered live on Twitter by both Nathaniel Cole and Samantha Twietmeyer and attended by three of the leadership candidates), Cam Broten tweeted a link to his vision statement for rural Saskatchewan. But that single well-timed reminder also makes for a contrast against the updated content of Broten's website - where aside from individual endorsements, very little has been updated or highlighted since his launch.

Finally, Ryan Meili's campaign has an important story to tell about its exercise in citizen participation, and gave it prime front-page real estate - but it's largely burying the lede in the process. Here's the description of Meili's Parking Day event from the front page of his website:

Park-ticipatory Democracy

Parking Day is an “annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.” Saskatoon’s first Park(ing) Day was held recently, on September 21st, 2012, with temporary parks set up by a variety of groups and individuals on Broadway and 20th St W. The majority of the parks and associated activities were between Avenues B and C on 20th and in the gravel parking lot where the Barry Hotel once stood. This block is home to the 220 co-working spaceCollective Coffee and the Ryan Meili leadership campaign headquarters at 229 20th St W
And anybody who doesn't choose to "read more" based on that non-specific description will miss what Meili's campaign actually did for the event - including another noteworthy step in making sure that citizens' ideas are included in the leadership campaign:
The most exciting feature of the park for me, however, was a little white box and a few sheets of paper. We had printed ballots asking people to, rather than select a candidate, write down their idea for how we could build a healthier Saskatchewan. This was a great way to start conversations with people about the political issues of most concern to them.

As ideas were collected, we’d open up the ballot box once in a while to post them to the front windows of the office. By the end of the day there were over 1,000 different ideas posted on topics as varied as housing, city planning, transportation, the arts and nutrition...
Once we had a healthy number of ballots up on the walls, we started handing park visitors coloured sticker dots that they could use to vote for their favourite ideas on the wall. Some of the most popular ideas revolved around building a more bike-, pedestrian- and wheelchair-friendly city; food security; and affordable housing.

You can view the top ten issues here, or the entire list of Park(ing) Day ideas here.
Lest there be any doubt, there are few better problems to have (or easier ones to fix) than for a campaign to have generated worthwhile content which isn't yet as well-promoted as it might be.

But ultimately, each candidate's most important ideas and initiatives should be readily accessible to voters who may not be willing to dig through multiple directories or vague introductions to find them. And that looks like an area where several leadership campaigns have some room for improvement.

1 comment:

  1. Greg,

    I’m just reconnecting with the blogosphere after a week of extensive campaign travel.

    For our first two policy announcements (representative democracy and business tax reform), we posted backgrounders in the issues section at the same time as news releases.

    Our next two policy announcements (potash and oil/uranium) are covered by a single backgrounder on resource royalties, which we did not post in the issues section until after both announcements:

    In any case, readers could also have found both news releases featured on our homepage:

    Thanks for your interest.