There are few institutions that are sacrosanct in a Canadian election. We expect to see political hay being made of the military, courts, Parliament and Senate, even the RCMP. All may become political footballs to one extent or another.
That said, trying to drag in the Terry Fox Foundation has been a misstep by the Conservatives.
On Sunday, during a Terry Fox Run, outgoing Tory MP James Moore announced that the Conservatives would commit up to $35 million in matching donations for this year’s event. If the Conservatives were re-elected, of course.
The Terry Fox family were a bit baffled when Moore then talked about how supportive the family was of the pledge.
Now the Conservatives, under fire from NDP leader Tom Mulcair and others, are taking a wee half-step backward. No, they didn’t talk to the family. But the Terry Fox Foundation did request the funding!
Well, yes and no. An Aug. 31 letter to the government sought support for a couple of specific initiatives, including a Comprehensive Cancer Centre. The letter also invited Harper to come and take part in a Terry Fox Run.
There’s nothing wrong with any party leader or candidate taking part in a Terry Fox Run. We’d hope to see them out there, win or lose, next year, too. Nor is there anything wrong with providing matching funds. Cancer research could certainly use $35 million, and more.
But tying the funding to the Conservatives re-election has an air of desperation, and turns what should be a national, non-partisan priority into a carrot dangled over the heads of the Foundation and the Fox family. C’mon, their tactics say, vote for us and you’ll get the cash.
If the Conservatives really believe in the mission of Terry Fox – and this goes for the other parties as well – they’ll commit to a serious increase in cancer research and treatment in this country, and they will make this kind of announcement far away from the campaign trail.