Some Random Observations Around the NDP Leadership Race

Something in this CBC story caught my eye and I thought I'd share it here.  David Hale, the lawyer who's been charged with investigating WaterhenGate made this comment:

“'We just need to do this for Mr. Lingenfelter; we need to do it for Ms.
Higgins; we need to do it for Mr. Pedersen; and we need to do it for
Ryan Meili,' Hale said.”

Notice anything?  The use of the more formal Mr/Ms construct for all the other candidates and the full name for Ryan Meili probably means nothing from a lawyer who, by all accounts, will be impartial and is well-qualified to handle this investigation.  But you wonder if, on a subliminal level, that familiarity in how he used Ryan's name versus the other candidate's means anything deeper?  I mean, it's a small detail but possibly quite telling. 

Of course, don't break out the tinfoil hats yet.  I know a detail like that is roughly on the same level as counting Facebook friends to determine popularity (660 Link, 434 Meili at this moment!  Though probably, if I went through and once again counted only those identifiable as actual Saskatchewan residents, I expect it'd be something like 130 Link, 431 Meili

[Edit: someone mentioned it and I alluded to it in this last paragraph but just to be absolutely clear, Lingenfelter is getting a very large amount of support on Facebook from people from Columbia, his wife's home country, who are ineligible to vote in the leadership race.  Nothing wrong or illegal with this other than the fact that it could create a misleading impression if someone only looked at the raw numbers without digging a bit deeper.]

Actually, this is a good chance to do some momentum math.

In my last post on Facebook support…
Link was at 543 and is now at 660 = 117 new supporters which is 18% growth since March 22.
Meili was at 290 and is now at 434 = 144 new supporters which is 33% growth since March 22.

Another interesting thing I noticed poking around on Facebook…
Ryan Meili (as an individual) is friends with Deb Higgins and Yens Pedersen but not Dwain Lingenfelter
Deb Higgins is friends with Ryan and Yens Pedersen but not Dwain Lingenfelter
Yens Pedersen is friends with Ryan and Deb but not Dwain Lingenfelter.

See a pattern here?  I mean, a lot of the Link defenses I've seen coming out since WaterhenGate say that if you're a good NDP'er, you shouldn't call Lingenfelter out for this screw-up because it's bad for party unity or it reflects poorly on the party.  Guess what?  It appears that's already the case and there's a big divide between three of the candidates and the other one.  (It's harder to wade through the hundreds of people on each candidate's fan pages so I didn't check there but I would imagine you might see something similar.) 

Oh, and still with Facebook.  Before they created the option to make Fan pages for politicians, celebrities, organizations, etc., some organizations would create profiles as if they were individuals.  That worked well for the most part but can lead to some embarrassing or confusing situations for organizations, especially those that you would expect to remain neutral or equally support all candidates who may be one day responsible for their funding. 

So it's pretty surprising to see that the profile for “Saskatchewan Arts Board” is “friends” with Dwain Lingenfelter and Deb Higgins but *not* with Ryan Meili and Yens Pedersen.  The SAB profile is a “supporter” of Ryan on his fan page (I didn't check if the same holds true for Yens) so I don't know whether this was intentional or more likely, just a mix-up/misunderstanding about the different meanings that may be implied by being someone's “Friend” on Facebook versus being a “Supporter”. 

Finally, another small detail similar to the subliminal Hale comment I listed above.  The Jurist has already pointed out that the provincial NDP has done a really good job of remaining neutral with their coverage of this race but may have slipped up by allowing Lingenfelter space to post his own explanation of Waterhen Gate without providing the same space to the other campaigns.   But I wonder if the NDP itself has sent a subliminal message with how they ordered the candidates on the official leadership page?  In pretty much any situation where you are treating people as equals, you would refer to them alphabetically by surname.  So the order of the headshots in the page's header I'd expect to see would go: Higgins, Lingenfelter, Meili, Pedersen.  Instead, we get Meili, Higgins, Pedersen, Lingenfelter. 

Again, I'm probably reading *way* too much into this but you wonder if this was another subliminal nod – perhaps to a preferred order of finish? Or perhaps someone at NDP HQ was already familiar with the type of attitude Mr. Lingenfelter can show to his own party?

“NDP Leadership Candidate, Dwain Lingenfelter, today expressed concern
that the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party has decided to ignore the
Far North in its series of Leadership Candidate Public Forums next
month, and says he has decided to organize his own public forum in the
region and invite the other leadership candidates to take part.”  So he can call out party staffers for their lack of organizational skills yet anybody criticizing Lingenfelter for Waterhen Gate is endangering party unity?  Right…  

Anyhow, I'm very conscious that this is really small, off-the-radar stuff that most people probably don't even pay attention to or notice.  And that individually, none of these examples probably means anything.  But I also can't help wonder if seeing more and more examples of these little things adds up to something bigger?

Comments 19

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    In the context, it makes sense to reference Mr. Lingenfelter first. I don't read anything in particular into the order beyond that.
    But surely it should have been “Mr. Lingenfelter, Ms. Higgins, Mr. Pedersen and Dr, Meili.”
    Just sayin'.

    Posted 07 May 2009 at 7:51 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Good point!

    Posted 07 May 2009 at 9:27 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    As someone who is involved in the making of the party web page I can address the issue of the placement order of the candidates. It has to do with both the shoulder cropping of the pictures we were using and the line-of-sight (i.e. the way the candidates are facing). We tried a couple of different layouts and this was simply the best option from a purely aesthetic perspective.

    Posted 08 May 2009 at 1:01 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I love it! I've been waiting for someone to suggest that the order of candidate headshots on the Leadership Banner on the party website was a conspiracy of some sort. I'm afraid that the truth is much more mundane.
    I built the banner, but I'm an amateur graphic designer. We needed something quick, so I put it together. I had a limited selection of photos of the candidates available to me, and not much time to spare, so I arranged them as well as possible based on which way they were facing, and the croppings on the original photos. For instance, the Lingenfelter photo is from his brochure, and his right shoulder was already cropped to fit against the right-side of the page, so I had to put him on the far end of the banner, or it would have looked weird. Since Meili was the only photo looking right, I put him on the lefthand side so he was looking toward the other three, in the hopes that the “centre of gravity” of the design would be somewhere in the middle.
    If anyone with more talent would like to submit a re-designed banner that fits the colour scheme of the page and is 966 x 199 pixels, I'll happily post it up instead if it looks better than this one. Feel free to arrange leadership candidates in any order you like! Email me at

    Posted 08 May 2009 at 1:11 am
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Posted 08 May 2009 at 3:26 pm
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Tim,
    Thanks for posting – and for taking my observation in the slightly tongue-in-cheek manner in which it was written. I didn't *really* think it was a conspiracy theory but I'm a blogger so I have to pretend that everything is a potential conspiracy!
    Another coincidence – I've had my own issues doing graphics on a guitar tabulature archive I maintain for Fred Eaglesmith and Hawksley Workman ( No one accused me of a conspiracy for how I laid out the images of the four artists on the page but I did have to get someone who visits the page regularly to touch-up the graphics for me so they looked better than my original design!
    If you're at convention, look me up and I'll buy you a beer for being a good guy!

    Posted 08 May 2009 at 3:32 pm
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    As a life long NDP supporter the new revelations about the membership scandal leave me empty. I have always thought we had more integrity than other political parties. I was very in favor of Mr.Lingenfelter for our next leader. Now with all this I'm lost. Will someone please step up and take control so we have a chance at winning the next election. I feel we are slipping into position we may never recover from.

    Posted 11 May 2009 at 2:04 am
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    I had the opertunity to meet with all the NDP Leadership candidates the other day. We were charged with picking the candidate our organization would suport in the leadership race. Deb higgins was cold, unprepared and seemed put off by having to meet with us. Dwayne lingenfelter was very professional, prepared, researched our isues, had the answers to our questions, and seemed personable and happy to meet with us. Yens peterson was unprepared, uninformed, and danced around every single question from his stance on uranium, to his stance on rural issues. The only straight answer we got was his name, and after hearing him out i am suspicouse that yens is his real name. Ryan Meili Was Intelligent, Excited, and personable in that nice but akwardly intelectual way. He came across as honest, dedicated and full of zeal. His ideas though well thought out and intelligent came across as utopian, and unrealistic. he knew the issues but had no real insight into the actuall heart of them. I beleive he is the most socialist of the four. Unfortunatly we all liked him, feel he would make a tremendous mla, but without some experience the world of politics will eat him alive. He is the kind of guy who inspires people with his high minded, idealistic aproach to the issues, but i dont think he understands the process and how hard it would be to implement the ideas he has.
    I hope you appreciate the irony of me being part of the process to pick an NDP leader
    oh and obviously since Dr. Meili looks so young using his first name and not Dr. or Mr. they are playing him off as the kid of the bunch.

    Posted 12 May 2009 at 12:40 pm
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    You didn't give your name or organization so I'm not sure where the irony comes in?
    I'm also not sure why you posted pretty much the same comment on two different posts – I try not to be paranoid but whenever I'm online (as the content of this post shows!) I always get a bit more…cautious.
    So I'm sitting here thinking, maybe this person didn't realise I get notified by e-mail every time a comment is posted and wanted to make sure I saw their comment so they posted it in two places?
    Or maybe you're a Lingenfelter supporter (existing or newly created) and are trying to create some support for your candidate since, at least online and in the blogosphere, Link doesn't have a lot of people behind him?
    As for your thought that Ryan is too intellectual or too idealistic, I'd point out that if Tommy Douglas didn't exhibit those characteristics – especially idealism – we probably wouldn't have Medicare and a number of other advancements people of all political stripes now take for granted.
    But anyhow, thanks for taking the time to comment – I hope you return to provide a bit more background on that irony comment – you've got me intrigued!

    Posted 12 May 2009 at 4:53 pm
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    Wow thanks for straightening that out for me anonymous. The only leardership choice you see tried to rig the leadership election. We need someone to step up and take control cause this is not looking good.

    Posted 13 May 2009 at 3:24 pm
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    I cant give my name or organization on here, but if you have any incling of who i am you know i would not ever vote NDP. I commented in the first place becuase i thought you might find a completely unbiased opinon interesting, as i do not care who becomes the NDP leader, i just had a chance to interview all four candidates. i submitted it twice because the second place i commented was actually a better place to comment. I personaly have no use for lingenfelter and went in to that meeting thinking i would not give him my nod no matter who he was running against, but honestly in the end he was the only one we could suport. Its funny how sometimes life puts you in strange situations.

    Posted 15 May 2009 at 12:05 am
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    Nice try you must be Frasier. Unless I guess you realy love the SP and know that if Link win this race our NDP will be put in a hole that may take a decade to crawl out of. I sure hope the moral half of this party can pull together and make the right decision.

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:31 am
  13. Anonymous wrote:

    You are always looking for conspiracy theories.

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 4:04 am
  14. Anonymous wrote:

    I suspect a lot of Lingenfelter supporters are disillusioned. The biggest question is why would the presumptive front-runner and his campaign allow something like this to happen (I'm still not buying the “over zealous” volunteer story completely – Link's campaign processed the memberships with batting an eye, Link's campaign obtained $10 000 in small bills – *very* strange behaviour if you're taking Link at his word.)

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:18 pm
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for your explanation and your observations as well. I pretty strongly disagree with you on “awkwardly intellectual” and idealistic being bad qualities for a leader – in fact, those are two of the most important things I can think of.
    You remind me of an interview I heard in 2004 when a woman who said I agree with John Kerry on pretty much everything but I'm voting for GW Bush because he seems like a more religious man. You're sort of saying Ryan Meili sounded great in pretty much every aspect but because I think he's not cut out for politics, I'm supporting the other guy. (And his campaign so far shows he's actually *more* cut out for politics than some others who've made various mis-steps.)

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:28 pm
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    I suspect if people really hear the details of what happened, it'll be more than half of the party looking for a reliable, trustworthy alternative to typical old-school political tactics.

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:37 pm
  17. Anonymous wrote:

    Not sure if this was directed at me or Lee X but if me, yes, yes, I am! 😉

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:39 pm
  18. Anonymous wrote:

    Perhaps my point was that a politician needs to be able to relate to the people he is representing, or at least come across that way.More importantly the people need to relate to the leader. The majority of people in this province have dirt under their nails, they have mortages, and bills, and if they cant see the leader being one of them they wont vote for him, even though linginfelter comes across as a sleazey car salesman he comes across as an every man, ryan needs to work on that.

    Posted 17 May 2009 at 8:33 pm
  19. Anonymous wrote:

    Your point reminds me of the “arugula-eating academic” charges that were leveled against Barack Obama by people who tried to label him as an intellectual elitist. That's also why we ended up with humiliating video of Hillary doing shots of whiskey and Obama throwing gutter balls as they attempted to show their connection to the fabled “common man”.
    Jon Stewart said it best – “for someone in such a powerful position, I *don't* want somebody I'd have a beer with. I *want* somebody who's way smarter than I am!”
    And as for your point about people not voting someone they can't see as being “one of them”, there were definitely concerns but I think Obama proved that theory wrong.
    You have to give people a bit of credit – sometimes we fall for the used car salesman's pitch but just as often we see through it.

    Posted 19 May 2009 at 3:12 pm

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