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Tory campaign chief prefers the old-fashioned ways of winning elections

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Hamish Marshall, the man who will be heading the Conservative campaign in next year’s federal election, does not have an account on Twitter.

This doesn’t mean Marshall is uninterested in what’s going on with social media or its potentially corrosive effects on traditional politics. Actually, it was a big topic of discussion at a panel debate in Ottawa this past week about data and democracy, in which Marshall was one of the featured speakers.

Hamish Marshall, Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager, is a conservative kind of Conservative, Susan Delacourt writes.
Hamish Marshall, Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager, is a conservative kind of Conservative, Susan Delacourt writes.  (Torch Agency Photo)

“You end up having people getting really, really into a bubble, where their news feeds on whatever social platforms they’re on is all they consume,” Marshall said. “And they don’t watch broadcast television or they don’t read newspapers in the normal sense. They only read articles that are posted online that fit with their world view. And the problem with that is that people don’t see the whole picture.”

In the Twitterverse, Marshall is a much-demonized figure, portrayed as a practitioner of dark political arts and a co-conspirator with the alt-right, such as it is, in Canada. The caricature stems from Marshall being a founding board member of Rebel Media, even if those ties were cut long ago.

People who have embraced that view of Marshall would have been disappointed at the person on stage at the Chateau Laurier last week. Andrew Scheer’s campaign chief seems to have a distinct preference for the old-fashioned aspect of politics — paper ballots, big political parties, and traditional mass media covering the campaign. You might say that Marshall is a conservative kind of Conservative.

Before the event, we talked about his concern that there would be too few reporters covering the Scheer campaign along the trail from day to day in next fall’s election.

What that means, at least for now, is that federal Conservatives don’t seem to be leaning toward the no-media-bus innovation that we saw with Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives in this year’s Ontario election.

Marshall told the crowd that he expected all parties to be vulnerable to hacking in the 2019 campaign — a view I’ve heard from high-level Liberals as well for several months now. On that score, Marshall agrees with Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, who was voicing similar warnings this week.

Marshall believes that Canada is wise to keep its paper-ballot system because it is far harder to hack. “Voting online is a horrific and terrible idea,” he said.

He was also happy that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had backed away from any electoral reform that would have led to proportional representation. That system would have bred a whole bunch of smaller, “niche” parties, Marshall contends, and Canada would be the poorer for it. Niche politics produces tribalism, he says — and that’s no good. Large, pan-Canadian parties breed compromise and moderation.

“As a national campaign director, I’m held in check from tribalism by knowing the fact that we can’t win with just the hardcore of our party voting for us,” Marshall said. “If I just appeal to the most conservative Canadians, we’re going to get 25 per cent of the vote. We’re not going to win an election with 25 per cent of the vote. ….It’s the only way that either of the only two parties that have ever won … by appealing to a large section of Canadians.”

All of this speaks to middle-ground moderation, not the alt-right extremism that Marshall’s detractors are keen to find. If you’re looking for Donald Trump-style politics, in fact, you’re more likely to find it among the members of the federal Conservative caucus.

MPs such as Michelle Rempel and Pierre Poilievre have been whipping up anti-media sentiment since the government announced measures this week to aid the ailing news industry, alleging journalists are being “bought off” by the Liberals. It’s a variation on Trump’s now oft-used efforts to delegitimize his critics, whether they’re in the justice system or the reporting ranks.

On Twitter, this anti-media thing by some MPs has picked up steam, especially among Conservative partisans. We know the campaign manager won’t be joining in the pile-on, though, since he’s staying off Twitter.

It’ll be interesting to see what approach prevails for Conservatives in 2019. Will it be the tribalism and populism we’re seeing on Twitter, or will it be Marshall’s moderate, old-fashioned embrace of the tried and true in big-party Canadian politics? That internal tension could be as interesting as the Conservatives’ fight against the Liberals.

Susan Delacourt is the Star’s Ottawa bureau chief and a columnist covering national politics. Reach her via email: sdelacourt@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @susandelacourt



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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