An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE LATEST EDITION of the 10 percenter newsletter arrived in my mailbox the other day.
It includes a message from Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod, information about COVID-19 support programs and a form that can be mailed back postage free for a Canadian flag draw.
It was all information that could easily have been obtained online, just like the last one and the one before that.
MPs are allowed to distribute these things to 10 percent of homes in their ridings several times a year as part of their office budgets. They’re supposed to provide a means to communicate with their constituents on important matters.
Many, however, are nothing more than partisan promotional pieces for MPs and their parties, or stuff we already knew. The Conservatives have been particularly fond of them — years ago it was discovered that some Tory MPs were mailing out 10 percenters to ridings other than their own, slamming the Liberals. That practice was stopped.
In fairness, McLeod’s householders are less objectional than what some other MPs have done when it comes to partisan publications, and she also sends out an informational householder in a different format from time to time that explains her job.
But it comes down to this — why should taxpayers pay for such stuff, especially in this day and age of electronic communication? MPs annually spend anywhere from a thousand bucks to $25,000 or more on 10 per centers, and the total bill across the country is in the millions.
It’s nice to know words on paper are still used to spread information, but the fact is almost nobody reads these things.
In her latest, the MP notes that she has been sending out a weekly e-newsletter on COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. That sounds like a good idea. There are all kinds of ways for MPs to communicate on social media, so why not save some taxpayers’ money and stick to Facebook?
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.