South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg’s Facebook post from Oct. 15, 2018.

COLUMN: Glowing kudos and ‘non-endorsements’

MP’s high praise for a White Rock candidate – then clarification – doesn’t come off as advertised

There must a political lesson emanating from the latest misstep by at least one elected official on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

But for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is.

This one involves officials currently serving two levels of government, after a paid advertisement for tomorrow’s civic election was posted online last weekend with an eight-month-old quote from South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg endorsing White Rock mayoral candidate Grant Meyer as “one of the most diligent and conscientious” councillors in B.C.

Seems straightforward enough. A federal MP had agreed to lend whatever weight his comment was worth to a civic candidate.

Yet this one went off-track soon after.

The next day, Hogg posted on Facebook: “In an effort to dispel confusion, I wish it to be understood that I do not endorse candidates in the municipal elections. I do stand-by any comments made while working with people in the past, including the comments posted.”

Uh… so the quote is accurate but was used out-of-context and/or without his knowledge?

Nope… as both politicians later confirmed (and the posted advertisement later included), the MP agreed that the candidate could use it in an ad.

So… what was the deal with the clarification?

Turns out, according to both, Hogg’s quote in the ad was not actually an “endorsement” – you know, the act of giving one’s public approval or support to someone or something, if the dictionary definition is to be believed.

Hogg expressed surprise that his published quote “was being interpreted as an endorsement,” while Meyer seemed to find his own unforgiving definition: “He did not say I endorse this candidate for this office, though some people might say it’s darn close to an endorsement.”

Some people? Indeed.

READ: South Surrey-White Rock MP denies ad quote a civic endorsement, Oct. 15, 2018.

To give Hogg his due, he suggests it is fair use for any politician to advertise his past comments. However, the trouble with this line of defence is that it introduces more questions.

Why did he make such a third-person comment in the first place, unless it was for the expressed purpose of an endorsement?

“Of all the councillors I’ve worked with around the province, he’s one of the most diligent and conscientious. I’ve worked with Grant on railway issues and the promenade extension and his follow through was excellent.”

Hardly the sort of thing one would write for any other reason.

And why give such glowing kudos on these subjects? Local politicians have long contended the rail line will be relocated off the waterfront, without much agreement beyond their borders. And the walkway seems to be in exactly the same position when it was conceived in the late-’80s. Not quite missions accomplished.

READ: Cities present four rail-route options to bypass White Rock, Nov. 27, 2013.

READ: Trains can be gone from White Rock waterfront in 5 years: Baldwin, Sept. 10, 2014.

As for standing by past comments, that certainly sounds honourable and commendable – but not for a election-time propaganda intended to sway voters.

Our current MP should remember that despite his long history of serving this community conscientiously at all three levels of government, it will again be his name on the ballot next year, and his linguistic gymnastics in this affair hardly serve as a ringing endorsement.

Lance Peverley is the Peace Arch News editor.

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