Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Politics and me are like this......

So, I am sitting in my store after crying my eyes out because it was the only way to relieve the stress of a terrible terrible day.
So, this is how the day went:
I have to start at the beginning so you understand. Sometime last week I noticed a page on FaceBook about "Wellness Week". The local Dundas Wellness Week is an event held by the local business association, and lots of local businesses( including mine-Ellenoire) in the downtown area are participating- giving demonstrations, tastings, etc all discussing and displaying things surrounding wellness. On this facebook event page I discovered the info and photo that is used by the Business Association( hereafter referred to as the BIA) for their marketing campaign for the event. To my surprise it was not the BIA hosting this "event" on this page at all it was a local political party. On the page words stated on the page were/are: "Here is a list of the events that require our presence..." on this list were the events that my store is hosting amongst others.
My interpretation of the page is that there is a political party planning to place people in or near my store to "spread the word" about their parties message in the upcoming national election during events that my customers will be attending. I was not happy about this. I am in business to make money, not have conflict in my store with customers and political campaigners. My store feeds my son, my store pays my bills. My store is not a place for anyone, including me and my staff to make overt statements about their personal political choices. So, the idea of a party deciding without my permission that they will be attending the events in my store with the plan to "spread the word" to my clients made me angry. I wrote a note on their wall saying that no one campaigning would be permitted in my store without permission and I suggested they ask other businesses permission as well. It was clear I was unhappy about their presumptuousness but I was not unpleasant or mean. I also stated that this was not about my political opinion at all.

I expected backlash on the facebook wall, but I did not expect what ended up happening. My comment on the facebook wall was deleted, and was replaced with a statement that they would be "contacting all businesses before campaigning" In the spirit of social media the fact that they deleted my harmless comment was a little silly, but.... This afternoon at 12:30 I received a call from someone from this party. The tone of voice used by this person seemed to me to be confrontational. The call went something like this: Hi I am from the --------- party, and I am calling to tell you that we will be attending your event(s) during wellness week

So I asked if they were intending at attend as customers... and she said well we will come with 2 or 3 of us in our party t-shirts during your demonstration and just stand there, we won't be campaigning or anything and I said "well I would prefer you didn't"

and after a few more words then she hung up the phone.

I was quite upset, trying to imagine what might happen if these campaigners being here would cause any issue with my customers.
I called the head of the BIA to let her know about the facebook page. I was on the phone and 30 minutes after the phone call a car with several people in the party colours and campaign t-shirts pulled up to the parking spot in front of my store. After watching them for 15 minutes, talking amongst themselves and giving out a few of what appeared to be campaign flyers or cards I closed my store. I was so upset after the phone call that I wanted to be sure that my customers did not think that these people outside my store meant that I was affiliated with that party, or any party for that matter! For the next hour or so the party campaigners actively walked the street in party tshirts, carrying signs going in and out of stores using the car in front of my store as a base to get things in and out of. Once they were clearly not hovering around my store anymore I re-opened.
Throughout the day I remained quite upset. I had not eaten well, I was worried that my simple statement on the facebook page could escalate to these things. A phone call from someone "telling" me they were coming to my events, and a group of people parking right in front of my store.... what was going to happen next?
At 5pm, 4 hours after they arrived the party people finally drove away.
At 5:50 I received this email from an anonymous email address.
The email was entitled "Friendly" the body of the email said this:
FYI, for future reference The chief Electoral Officer indicates NO-One can limit campaigning on public property and store owners who try to do so are liable for $2000.00 fine or 6 months in jail.

Have a a great day!

As you can imagine an email with an implied threat like that upset me even more. My fears came true. It has escalated again. Is this Canadian Politics? Or does it remind you of anything else? All I know right now is that my voting choices just got easier. Whether these people that chose to make me feel threatened and like a prisoner in my own store today are following party rules I do not know. If the party constituent chose to chat with me today after finding out from the BIA rep that I had received the call and about the facebook issue then I may have given him the time to apologise, or even tell me his point of view. Instead, he walked by my store dozens of times knowing there was a conflict and he did nothing. Manners? No, not from anyone in that party today.

You tell me dear bloggy bits readers. What should I make of this?


Doreen said...

With behaviour like that, I would suspect the "No-Longer-Progressive" Conservatives. If I'm wrong and it was another party, then I'm shocked and scared. If it WAS the "NLP"Cs, then I'm appalled (though not surprised) and think you should make sure that the other candidates hear all about it, especially the e-mail threat. Whatever you do, save that e-mail! And don't be afraid -- that threat will do more harm to them than to you!

David said...

So the inside of your store is public property!?

Sucks you're in a retail situation as you should go public with who the spaghetti brains were supporting.

Hugs not thugs!

TigereyeSal said...

"...NO-One can limit campaigning on public property and store owners who try to do so are liable for $2000.00 fine or 6 months in jail..."

How much of the space in front of your store is considered public property? I have a very hard time believing that the inside of your store is public property.

I sure resent the coupling of the concept of limiting campaigning on public property, which I suspect you would not do, and the concept of a "store owner" being told how to behave on "public property".

Public property is PUBLIC, and is subject to common laws, no? Private property is private and what goes on there is generally not a matter for public or political consumption.

For you to be told how to conduct yourself on your OWN turf and threatened with fines etc. for misbehaviour on PUBLIC turf is cruel, inappropriate, inflammatory...

To clarify, you did NOT inhibit action on public property, right? You did not interfere, or limit any action on public property. You chose to protect your private property against actions in which you chose not to participate. Don't you have the right to do that? Don't you have the right to do that without being threatened (inaccurately) and intimidated?

It IS pretty draconian. I hope saner heads soon prevail on their end.

TigereyeSal said...

I found the act and the relevant piece, I think:

Canvassing, etc., in residential areas

81. (1) No person who is in control of an apartment building, condominium building or other multiple-residence building or a gated community may prevent a candidate or his or her representative from

(a) in the case of an apartment building, condominium building or gated community, canvassing, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., at the doors to the apartments, units or houses, as the case may be; or

(b) in the case of a multiple-residence building, campaigning, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., in a common area in the multiple residence.


(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of a person who is in control of a multiple residence building whose residents’ physical or emotional well-being may be harmed as a result of permitting canvassing or campaigning referred to in that subsection.
2000, c. 9, s. 81; 2007, c. 21, s. 11.

Campaigning in public places

81.1 (1) No person who is in control of a building, land, street or any other place, any part of which is open without charge to members of the public, whether on a continuous, periodic or occasional basis — including any commercial, business, cultural, historical, educational, religious, governmental, entertainment or recreational place — may prevent a candidate or his or her representative from campaigning in or on that part when it is open without charge to members of the public.


(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of a place if campaigning in or on it would be incompatible with the function and purpose of the place or inconsistent with public safety.
2007, c. 21, s. 12.

Here is the URL

jeanne said...

Cretons. It gave me the same sick feeling that I had a few weeks ago w/ regard to my privacy 'issue.' Creeps. I'm thinking a large sign posted on the outside of YOUR store stating that that's THEIR deal, NOT MINE. What S**ts for using your business to further their own ends w/o your permission. Sorry I am not my articulate. VERY sympathetic (and furious) but not articulate. x rock.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jeanne, who has the same suggestion I was going to throw forth - basically put up a sign simply stating that Ellenoire is not supporting any specific party and that any campaigners are there of their own volition. if you can't stpo them from being outside your store, you can find a way to word the sign that is polite but still clearly gets the message across that you are not supporting their presence.

Anonymous said...

The fundamentally stupid thing about this whole incident is that the local organisers of the party in question could have simply started by asking. Asking the BIA, who spent the time and money to create the event that the party is effectively hijacking, and asking the merchants, who's livelyhood (and volunteer time on behalf of the BIA) they are also hijacking. Did they consider that the (non-political) Wellness Week event attendees might feel uncomfortable and leave without interacting with the merchant? Or decide not to return next year or to Dundas at all, ruining the work of the BIA? All made worse by the entitled attitude put forth in the phone call, "I'm calling to TELL you we're coming.." followed with citing civil law and threatening a fine. I would suggest if they had asked first they would have found a reasonable reception. They demand respect fo thier point of view but certainly are not giving respect.

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is very off-color and totally UNpolitically correct, but if I were you, I would go out there w/no wig and start asking their campaigners a lot of pointed questions. you know -- not obstructing them, except aren't most people uncomfortable with a bald woman? So if you're hanging around the campaigners, people would me less included to stop and talk w/them.

LOL use what ya got!

I don't mean this to be disrespectful to you, personally! This really burns me up, those a$$wipe politicians!

(And yes to the sign idea, too)