Column: Canvassing – Facts vs. Fiction

June 12, 2018 | 13 Comments

[Opinion column written by MP Chris Famous]

It seems to be a pattern of the One Bermuda Alliance [OBA] to constantly attempt to produce “fake news” prior to General Elections and or Bye-Elections. Prior to the General Election of 2017 they spent an enormous amount of funds on adverts to scaremonger the voting public into believing that the Progressive Labour Party [PLP] was going to place a tax on rental incomes.

This was proven to be patently false and the people of Bermuda saw right through that failed attempt and voted the OBA out of office.

More recently, on the eve of the June 7th Bye-Elections former OBA leader and Premier once again took to social media in an attempt to scaremonger the voters of C 25, Warwick North East into not voting for the PLP.

Voters in C25 complain of constant calls from the PLP and are wondering how they got their phone number” – Michael Dunkley via Twitter June 5th, 2018

This was followed the very next day by then OBA Candidate for C 25 Mr. Justin Mathias via Facebook - “It’s the petty truth! We were never given phone numbers we do it the proper way by asking constituents if they would provide us with their numbers.”

Essentially, their baseless accusations were that the PLP was furnished with the phone numbers of voters in C25 by the Parliamentary Registrars Office [PRO].

Among the litany of claims by the OBA this ranked way up in the top ten of fake news. Please allow me a few minutes to explain what really goes on in campaigns

Groundwork

I have been directly involved in the canvassing side of every General Election and Bye-Election since 2012. Canvassing requires us to get out and walk up and down this island in the sun, wind and rain. We do this in order to engage with the people face to face in their homes and or in the street.

canvassers Bermuda June 11 2018

After speaking with them we ask if they would like to share with us their numbers and emails.

In 99 percent of the cases, they happily share the following information with us:

  • Home numbers
  • Cell phone numbers
  • Email address[es]

This information is then entered into our database and there it remains forever until we delete the numbers needed. Simply put, that is how both the OBA and PLP gathers and retains contact info in order to be able to stay in touch with the electorate.

Needless to say, the voters of C 25 ignored the “fake news” from the OBA and voted the PLPs Curtis Dickinson in as their new Member of Parliament [MP]. Conversely the voters of C 22, Paget East voted to increase the PLP vote margin in a traditional UBP/OBA stronghold.

Never ending work

For further clarity, it should be made crystal-clear that door to door canvassing and phone banking is essentially a mammoth task that both parties commit countless time and resources to.

Here is a break down of statistics from an electoral standpoint:

  • As of May 2018, there are 46,170 registered voters spread throughout this island
  • On average, most of the 36 constituencies have 1250 registered voters
  • Roughly 4 constituencies have nearly 1450 registered voters
  • Each continuency has on average 400 households to be visited

Here are some further realities:

  • Each of the 46,170 registered voters deserves to be visited by those who seek to represent them
  • Not one of the 36 MPs are able to visit 1250-1450 persons annually on their own as logistically it is a challenge for one person to do this all by themselves
  • Each MP/ constituency needs a team of; phone bankers, canvassers, persons to work in polling stations, persons to serve food and drivers to pick up voters needing a ride to the polling stations.

During the Bye-elections and General elections over the last 6 years we have teams, who, essentially have become a family. A family who I would like to publicly thank today.

Indeed, every victory is owed to you.

- Chris Famous, a PLP MP, can be contacted via email at Carib_pro@yahoo.com, Twitter at @ryderz777 or via Whatsapp on 599-0901

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Comments (13)

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  1. alistair maclean says:

    Chris, this is absolute rubbish. Last year the Parliamentary Registrar announced that it had conducted a review into how voter information, including emnails, was obtained by the PLP.
    Unfortunately the results of that review have not, as far as I know, been made public.
    I would suggest that before you put out fake news – you check the facts first!

    • Black Soil says:

      Chris, just like Trump, YOU are the source of Fake News. The PR gave the PLP all the contact details and because of that you have to be VERY defensive (and very offensive) about it.

  2. harold says:

    Chris, this is patently false. The parliamentary registrar announced last year that it was doing a review about how details such as emails got into the hands of the PLP. Who is spouting fake news?

    • inna says:

      I believe that also to be correct (The parliamentary registrar announced last year that it was doing a review about how details such as emails got into the hands of the PLP), but the goalposts have now changed, and the PLP supposedly has a inventory of names and numbers gathered from their canvassing over the years.

  3. Huh? says:

    Am I missing something or reading this wrong?

    “Prior to the General Election of 2017 they spent an enormous amount of funds on adverts to scaremonger the voting public into believing that the Progressive Labour Party [PLP] was going to place a tax on rental incomes.

    This was proven to be patently false and the people of Bermuda saw right through that failed attempt and vote the OBA out of office.”

    Today’s news: Vacation Rental tax supported by MP’s and Hoteliers.

    Forgive me if I am misreading something here, but Chris, this is rubbish you are posting. Fake news is news that is not real, however in your eyes, fake news is simply news that does not conform to your viewpoint.

    • red rose says:

      LOL! Clearly his ghost writers did not get near this particular article.

  4. Question says:

    The fact is that this week alone the PLP has introduced two new taxes.

    And talking of lies prior to the election, it was the PLP side that was saying the AC35 was overbudget and was costing $140m. Total fabrication. Fake news put out to decieve the electrorate.

    • inna says:

      Unfortunately, we live in a reality where most Bermudians are absolutely fine with being shafted up the you know what… as long as it is the PLP doing it to them!!

      • Redman says:

        @ inna,

        Oh so true.

        Else for C F and his constant barage of misinformation and hypocrisy the electorate are clearly just as fine with it too. I liken most of the electorate to the people of springfield of the Simpsons fame. I know that’s hard on the Springfield town folk but it’s the closest comparison.

  5. Retro says:

    Message to both the plp and oba. A lot of people find door to door canvassing and telephone canvassing very invasive. If you are really interested in impressing us raise the standard of parliamentary debate!

  6. Chris Famous says:

    For clarity,

    The accusation via MP Dunkley was that the PLP was given contact info for the C 25 Bye-Election.

    That was/is false.

    The accusation in 2017 was that the PLP would implement a tax on DOMESTIC/Residential rental income.

    That has also proven to be false.

    TCF

  7. PANGAEA says:

    Hobson’s Choice

    When I attained the rank of Corporal in the Army ,I was told that the rank was not confirmirmed unless I put some body on charge , which I did…………. Their U Go.

    It is the same in the political world as one senior minister enforced his control to porve a point, this became the motor cycle helmet law.

    We recently see, that control has been taken one step further with the sugar tax as a further endorsement of power and control.

    Make me wonder why our people are not ” Happy Campers”.

    ” Three Bitcoins in the fountain, which one is for me ?”

  8. Paget East voter says:

    I must be part of the 1% then because prior to this bye election I have never had any contact with the PLP yet they somehow managed to obtain my cell phone number (which is unlisted) and called me a couple of times to remind me that the election was happening.

    No big to me, I wasn’t bothered by the calls, but I am a little curious as to how they got my number if I never gave it to them in the first place.

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