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Campbell Clark

Liberals fundraise off the fear of Trump Add to ...

Justin Trudeau usually steers clear of criticizing Donald Trump by name, but his Liberals are happy to make a few bucks off anti-Trump sentiment.

Monday’s big political event, the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate showdown, was clearly seen as an opportunity by the Liberal Party of Canada’s canny fundraisers. They sent out e-mail blasts that don’t mention the Trump name, but do make it clear they’re against him. And they’ll send you a T-shirt to show you agree – if you donate $99.

One e-mail is titled “building walls,” and that’s a not-so-oblique reference to Mr. Trump’s keep-out immigration policies and his proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

Open a link and you’ll find more.

“A fundamental choice will be on display tonight south of the border, when two U.S. presidential candidates go toe to toe in the first presidential debate – and many of the themes might be familiar to you,” one reads.

“Hope or fear? Diversity or division? Openness and inclusion, or turning our backs on the world?”

You don’t have to be the world’s greatest political code-breaker to figure out that the Liberals think Mr. Trump is on the side of fear, division, and turning our backs on the world. Hillary Clinton is presumably all that other good stuff: hope, diversity, openness, and inclusion.

It’s obviously a way to get attention. Folks in Canada are paying attention to Donald Trump, and most don’t like him. Chances are that if they’re on an Liberal e-mail list, they really don’t like him.

But then what? Why would anyone donate money to the Liberals just because they don’t like Donald Trump? What are the Liberals going to do about Mr. Trump? Well, for one thing, they’ve got T-shirts.

If you think that’s not a good reason, that’s because you’re not a canny Liberal fundraiser. The T-shirts are there for contrast.

The Liberals asked supporters what slogan they should put on T-shirts, and they came up with “Positive Politics.” It underlines Mr. Trudeau’s assertion that he does politics differently, and it’s now being sold as a kind of anti-Trump message. Donate $99 and get one free, the Liberal fundraising messages urge.

But that’s not all. Beyond contrast, there’s a second pitch: the proximate danger. It’s not just Mr. Trump’s politics fear and division, the Liberal fundraising pitch argues, but those of Conservative leadership candidates.

“Kellie Leitch wants an ‘anti-Canadian values’ screen for immigrants. Tony Clement wants to monitor every single Canadian charity for what he calls terrorist activity. Brad Trost wants to roll back equal marriage rights,” the pitch states.

It adds: “Tell Conservatives you’re tired of this kind of negative politics by making a donation of $99 right now (that’s as low as $24.75 after your 2016 tax credit), and we’ll send you our Positive Politics T-shirt as a thank you gift.”

Of course, it’s one thing to wear the T-shirt, but positive politics isn’t always the most effective motivator for donations. People tend to respond when there’s an opponent, or a danger, or something they want to stop. Now Donald Trump is helping the Liberals raise money.

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Follow on Twitter: @camrclark

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