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Wildrose Party

Top Conservative Fundraising Firm Lays Off Staff

This is interesting

The company behind the Conservative Party’s powerful fundraising and voter-identification machine has been laying off staff and borrowing millions of dollars at high interest rates as it faces an “extremely challenging” cash crunch.

The Toronto-based iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. (iMSGI) last week issued layoff notices to an unspecified number of telephone workers in its call centres across the country.

The company posted a net loss of $3.9 million in the quarter ended last September, citing a downturn in its U.S. business and a “significant decrease” in its Canadian political fundraising and direct voter-contact work.

Under the name Responsive Marketing Group (RMG), the company performed the Conservatives’ voter-contact operations during the last election and was also hired to make calls for the campaigns of 90 Conservative candidates. RMG continues to work as the party’s telemarketing fundraiser.

The Tories have excelled at fundraising through the dexterous use of databases of known and likely supporters willing to make small donations when contacted by phone by RMG.

RMG has provided similar services to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, the Wildrose Party in Alberta, the Saskatchewan Party and the B.C. Liberal Party.

But iMSGI is now cutting back on cold-calling to raise money for its roster of mostly conservative political clients, instead focussing on higher-yield calls to likely donors, according to a letter obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

The letter from iMSGI’s human resources director Stephanie Hornby to laid off staff members said that “circumstances relating to economic pressures has resulted in iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. (iMSGI) to (sic) make the decision to temporarily cease new donor acquisition calling and focus resources on retention calling and high value house-calling.”

Calls soliciting new donors are less profitable for call centres than “retention” calls to people who have given money in the past.

“The nature of our business often necessitates ramping work up and down based on business requirements,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Langhorne said in an email on Friday.

While some of Twitter are gloating over a Conservative firm’s demise, I am assuming they had to ramp up and expand to deal with the federal and provincial elections in the last two years and now are in an electoral down cycle with far less business coming in from Canada and the rather quiet American election cycle.  To be honest, fundraising for the B.C. Liberal Party doesn’t seem like a lot of fun right now.

It does give you an idea of how political fundraising works and how hard it is to sustain it.  Some might find it interesting that the Saskatchewan Party hires outside the province fundraisers.  So much for a “Made in Saskatchewan” solution for the party.

Tom Flanagan’s friends and allies are the ones that cut all ties with him

Interesting look at how Tom Flanagan’s friends and allies all abandoned him after his comments at the University of Lethbridge

Within the space of a few hours the reputation of one of Canada’s best-known and most iconic conservative thinkers, a mentor to both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, lay mortally wounded.

The first blow came at 9:30 a.m. as Flanagan was driving back to Calgary from Lethbridge where he had made his by now infamous comments on child pornography the previous evening.

His car phone rang. On the line were two officials from the Wildrose party: Vitor Marciano, press secretary to Smith; and Paul Hinman, a former MLA who is now senior adviser to Smith.

To Flanagan, who had been the Wildrose campaign manager in last year’s provincial election, these two men were not just party functionaries but friends and political allies.

And now, here they were on the phone telling him the party was cutting all ties with him. Not only that, Smith was issuing a news release condemning the statements he had made and adding, “Dr. Flanagan does not speak for me or the Wildrose caucus and he will have no role — formal or informal — with our organization going forward.”

Flanagan was reportedly stunned by the call. He didn’t realize his comments had been recorded and posted online — but even then he didn’t think his few off-the-cuff remarks about child pornography were objectionable.

It quickly got worse.

That was the first axe to fall. Shortly afterward, the CBC fired Flanagan as a paid on-air pundit; the prime minister’s director of communication called his comments “repugnant, ignorant and appalling;” and the University of Calgary, where Flanagan has taught political science since 1968, released a statement condemning his comments. U of C president Elizabeth Cannon said Flanagan was already on leave and would remain so until his retirement on June 30. 

Of course they were following his own advice

Last November, in a post-mortem of the provincial election campaign, Flanagan said the Wildrose should deal more quickly and brutally with candidates who make stupid comments that embarrass the party. Smith couldn’t have acted with any more speed or brutality this week against her friend and mentor.

The Best & Worst Political Strategies of 2012

I am really late on this one but it’s a great segment, including the world political strategists of 2012.

Redford’s leadership in jeopardy

From the Calgary Herald

Redford initially rejected widespread guidance to call an election within weeks of being sworn in as Alberta’s 14th premier on Oct. 7.

She was advised to say that unlike former premier Ed Stelmach — who changed Alberta’s royalty regime (and helped give birth to the Wildrose party as a result) before heading to the polls — she would proceed more humbly by seeking a mandate to govern.

“If she had listened then, we would have won 70 seats — another huge majority, since we were ahead of Wildrose by almost 30 points then,” says one Tory MLA, who adds that the seat he won by thousands of votes in the last election, will be a photo finish horse race on April 23. And he’s being optimistic.

But Redford said she wanted to show Albertans her brand of leadership before seeking a mandate. She said she wanted to deliver a budget before hitting the hustings. So, the next bit of advice she was offered was for her to present the budget and then drop the election writ the very next day.

“Again, she didn’t listen,” said a longtime Tory insider about the Feb. 9 provincial budget.

“There’s an old saying that goes like this: ‘She was born on third base but she thought she hit a triple,’” says another Tory mandarin.

“When she was told, ‘Go now, Alison. Run. Run.’ She didn’t listen. She thinks she’s smarter than all of these smart people, but she’s clearly not very astute politically. She won the Tory leadership by a fluke because of a flawed process. On the first ballot she had 19 per cent of the votes, but believes it was her brilliance that won her the leadership.

“The party wanted Jim Dinning and got Ed Stelmach because of a flawed process, and then wanted Gary Mar but got Redford because of the same flawed process, and both of those leaders surrounded themselves with political neophytes and actually believe they were chosen, when they were not.”