The Tomato

Strange columns featuring obscure Conservative leadership hopefuls are appearing everywhere. Photo: CC Jon S, brokinhrt2.
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Strange Globe and Mail article becomes a template for political marketing machine

Last week, in the midst of Trump-dominated headlines, one story from north of the border managed to break through—Leah McLaren’s column about trying to personally breastfeed someone else’s baby.

“Wait, what?” asked the entire Internet.

In the end, the Globe and Mail suspended McLaren, even though they did not explain how multiple editors thought it was a good idea to release this strange story in the first place.

Since the baby in question belonged to Michael Chong, a candidate for leadership of the Conservative party, this incident proved to have some weird silver lining for his campaign.

“The truth is, I’ve seen a lot more name recognition since this stranger announced she tried to breastfeed my baby,” said Chong.

Other candidates have taken notice and responded with a similar media strategy.

“It’s genius!” exclaimed Deepak Obhrai, another Conservative leadership candidate. “Why try and manipulate the news cycle when you can get attention from literally the weirdest story ever?”

“Michael Chong has stumbled onto a gold mine here,” said Maxime Bernier, a fellow leadership hopeful. “Although I’m pretty sure he got the idea from documents I accidentally left at his house.”

“Please, this is just another politician getting votes because people are hearing their name in the media,” said Kevin O’Leary, a part-time politician and full-time TV show host. “Why can’t leaders just focus on policy like I do?”

Some candidates are taking this marketing strategy one step further, and are actually paying columnists to write even stranger pieces about them. This has resulted in a string of bizarre news headlines, all of which feature a different Conservative leadership candidate.

“I really enjoyed ‘My dance-off with Lisa Raitt’s grandmother,’” said Thomas Brown, a bemused Ottawa citizen. “And of course ‘The joys of navigating the Amazon River in a canoe with Chris Alexander’ was similarly compelling.”

“My personal favourite was ‘That time Steven Blaney farted next to me on an airplane,’” said Samantha Aldrin, another Ottawa resident.

“I liked ‘Trout fishing with a guy who looked like Jack Thompson,’” said Richard Dale, a Toronto resident. “Okay, there is no candidate named Jack Thompson, but there are so many candidates in this race would you really have known?”

While this new media tactic has enjoyed a lot of success, some of the new columns have fallen flat.

“A serious policy discussion with Brad Trost” did so poorly online that the Toronto Star fired the journalist who wrote it and issued an official apology.

Despite a strong showing of support for the new strategy, there was one holdout among the Conservative leadership candidates.

“Guys, this is ridiculous. We need to campaign the right way,” said Kellie Leitch. “You know, like scapegoating immigrants.”