Political observers aren’t surprised by a supercut featuring YouTube videos of 13 Conservative MPs reading line for line the same script that emphasizes the party’s accomplishments.
Press Progress, a Broadbent Institute media project, edited together the video after watching a series of the MPs clips, which were posted to each of the politicians’ personal YouTube accounts.
It intersperses the identical clips with footage of robots like Johnny Five and R2-D2, implying that the MPs are actually robots. The end of the video features the MPs reciting a line about balancing the budget, which is then edited alongside a recent news story about the Parliamentary Budget Officer stating that the country is headed for a fiscal 2015 budget deficit.
“These ‘personalized’ videos by Conservative MPs seem like a bad attempt by the Prime Minister’s Office to communicate a central message to local constituents,” Luke LeBrun, the website’s editor, tells Yahoo Canada News. “Instead it comes across like a nightmare Andy Warhol might have.”
It’s not uncommon for parties to deliver similar messages to their constituents, particularly around election time, says Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. However, the message generally isn’t delivered in such a mechanical way.
“The strategy is that people don’t go off message,” he says. “You don’t get people tripping over themselves, saying something that can be exploited by other parties. You keep drumming home one message. That’s the nature of advertising.”
Tom Henheffer, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, says while there’s nothing unusual about parties asking their members to stick with a script, the optics of the videos in question are “terrible.”
He adds that it speaks to the government’s reputation of holding back information, citing its reluctance to speak with the media, the ending of the long-form census and the defunding of scientific research.
“As funny as this video is it just shows how insanely on message everyone has to be in government,” he says. “It’s a dangerous situation when you have a government that controls its message that tightly.”
Calls to the Conservative Party were not immediately returned.