Leading up to the election on October 19, some Canadians are taking candidate accountability into their own hands. Earlier this month, Campaign Gears, a company that helps non-profit organizations with campaign management, launched their own campaign, Prank Your Candidate. It offers Canadians the chance to vent their political frustrations by prank calling their local candidates, according to the press release.
“Our hope is that this tool will enable citizens to reclaim some of their power, even if candidates continue to stonewall us,” says Ethan Clarke, President of Campaign Gears. Clarke says the Liberals and Conservatives have been avoiding debates and refusing to answer questions from the media and the public, and these kinds of calls force them to take questions from concerned Canadians. For example, Stephen Harper has a five question policy with the media, where he will only answer five questions total from all the reporters present.
The organization provides scripts tailored to the candidate in question. For example:
I’m just calling to let you know I really like your candidate. They seem like the kind of person I could have a beer with, don’t you think?
When are they available because I’m pretty much unemployed — as are so many Canadians these days — so I’m available all the time. The bar near my place opens at 11 in the morning.
They’re gonna have to foot the bill, because I lost my job and the government did nothing to stop it.
Thanks for your time, and can you pass this message along to your candidate? [Hang up]
It’s intended for all demographics, but not all ends of the political spectrum are included in your initiative. Clarke is transparent about his support of the NDP, so if you were looking to prank call the party, don’t waste your time. When you click on the NDP as the party you’re looking to call, a Mulcair cartoon with hypnotic eyes urges you to “love the beard” and to volunteer.
The idea was born in July when the Campaign Gears team had a barbecue to come up with ways to engage frustrated Canadians and candidates. This seemed like the best way to bring the two together.
“This election deserves some mockery,” Clarke says. “Using humour is often a way to cut through the rhetoric and get at the truth. This is why political cartoons are so effective. The truth has been missing in this election.
Also, we want to express our disgust with the Liberals and Conservatives on a smattering of important issues, more recently, the focus on what people wear during a citizenship ceremony has been used to distract from very serious issues that affect a lot of Canada such as the state of the economy, C-51 or Aboriginal rights and the environment, but we also want to waste their campaign resources by tying up their phone lines. We don’t want to get stuck with more of the same terrible leadership we’ve had in this country for decades, so Prank A Candidate is working toward that goal in its own amusing way.”
Believe it or not, the campaign is legal. It’s not a traditional prank call in the sense that someone is impersonating someone else or saying anything misleading. The scripts contain real questions with scripted heckling in response.
Answers vary depending on answers, but according to Clarke, someone working for the Conservative party actually told the caller that a Blockbuster card is considered valid voting ID.
To hear real calls by fellow Canadians, visit the website and scroll down to just below the cartoon faces.
firstname.lastname@example.org | @dicksoncourtney