Log Cabin Chronicles

IS JEAN CHAREST READY?

CHRISTOPHER C. GOODFELLOW

Is Jean Charest ready?

Clearly, not for cyberspace politics. Further to my tongue-in-cheek look at the progressive conservative candidates websites on Laurentian Web, I was curious what was going on with Jean Charest.

Actually, I wanted to examine the unfiltered policy papers on Charest's new economic proposals. Where is the logical place to go after the big media splash about tax reductions in the past 48 hours?

The Liberal party website of course. One would expect that the latest news and press releases would be there.

I logged on to www.plq.org and waited for the pages to load. Right there on the first page is Charest's economic plan (in French) and I eagerly clicked again. Wait. This is not his new tax plan announcements but old stuff. Stuff three months old! Stuff presented in Quebec City.

Back to the homepage and then select the English website. Click on "what's new" and the latest update is for...wait for this...for the month of May! Wow is this real time cyberspace?

The last time my heart sank like this was before the 1995 referendum when I stuck my nose into the website affairs of the Liberal Party and was politely told to take a hike and that they had it all under control. Yeah, they had it under control...day after day went by and finally a website was posted.

It wasn't good. It wasn't informative and it didn't target the most cyber-oriented political market, i.e., young Quebeckers who are the biggest users of internet relay chat in North America. Yes, log on to IRC and see how many young Quebeckers are using the Quebec, Montreal, Trois Rivières, Rimouski, Lac St. Jean, St. Jerome conferences and then look at Ontario and Canada and figure it out for yourself.

This society is hip. This group is open to someone who wants to use the media tools to influence them.

The Liberals didn't have a proper website before the referendum and I would have thought things would have changed and Mr. Charest would see to it that the party was prepared to deal in cyberspace with the latest and greatest. Clearly not so. Sadly not so.

Will this be indicative of the preparedness of his overall campaign? My feeling is that if there are "loose ends" like this so late in the campaign as not to have a fully functioning up-to-date real-time website on which the media and inquisitive people can get information, then he has very poor campaign managers and he, himself, is not as "wired" as I thought he was. In fact, if this reflects his organization, he is sunk. He's had all summer to have a dynamite website up and running and a group of good webmasters working cyberspace for votes. Anyone today running for office should have this base covered and well covered with a very savvy political operative who knows cyberspace...not someone who just can mouth the words.

Hasn't anyone figured out this is the cheapest direct mail machine in the world? If I were running a campaign I'd be out buying every e-mail address in the province and soliciting opinions, help and votes by this inexpensive format.

At the very least there should be a real time media centre on the website to retrieve the press releases as soon as they are issued. At the very least. Give me a break...what's new ...last May?

I placed a call immediately afterwards on Saturday morning to Charles Sirois who is head of Teleglobe and Charest's headhunter for talented candidates. One would think you could get a real person at Teleglobe on Saturday morning, but I was forced to leave a message and it will be interesting to see if I get a reply Monday. I want to ask Mr. Sirois who is in charge of communications. Is he himself aware that if you go to the site and click on "what"s new", you get news from the month of May!

Incidentally, the PQ website is up to date and well organized and everything is there as it should be. They are organized. They've always been organized.

For fun I ran a Traceroute on the PQ site and it is hosted on a machine off Teleglobe! The big red machine is hosted on a server off UUNET...a fine American company...at the very least they could have given their business to Sirois!

I ran anonymous FTP connections to both. Both sites could be penetrated and are not secure if you know what you are doing. You can get an anonymous log in on the PQ site. You cannot log in anonymously on the Liberal site. Log in to both as "root" and try a few well worn political names as passwords and you might just surprise yourself and get inside!

I sent a message Saturday morning to jean.charest@plq.org. It will be interesting to see if I get a reply from anyone or will the e-mail end up in cyberspace heaven?

And I'll pose this question to Mr. Charest right here on Laurentian Web where we get over 1500 hits a day, why should we consider you a good manager if you don't even have the good sense to go and lock up the domain names www.jeancharest.ca or www.jeancharest.com which are two very logical places where anyone interested in your politics would go to look for you?

I'm tempted to register them for you! Get hip Jean...this is going to be a tough race.

Christopher C. Goodfellow is editor of the LaurentianWeb.

TO PART TWO

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