An eyebrow-raising number of people took part in a “telephone town hall” held by Sarnia-Lambton’s MPP on March 31.
According to a news release from Bob Bailey’s office: “More than 7,600 constituents joined in and participated during the hour long call which included call-in guests Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP, Monte McNaughton, and Huron-Bruce MPP, Lisa Thompson.”
Really? Seven thousand, six hundred participants?
The entire riding has just 79,000 electors, which would mean one in every 10 adults in Sarnia-Lambton was on the phone that night talking to Bob Bailey.
So what’s up with that?
Contacted for an explanation, Bailey agreed the number is “amazing” but affirmed its accuracy.
He said a computerized autodialer was used to deliver a message he prerecorded to 40,000 telephone numbers contained in a directory. The robocalls invited receivers to take part in the “town hall” the following day at 7:15 p.m.
On the night of March 31, a subsequent robocall invited recipients to listen in, submit questions to call screeners, and vote in opinion polls.
Bailey said the firm that organized the event told him 7,600 people took part, defining a participant as someone who stayed on the line at least 10 minutes.
“I wouldn’t want to call it a robocall, but I guess it really was a robotic call, but in a positive way,” he said.
Bailey said the first-of-its-kind exercise in the riding gave him unprecedented access to residents, which would have been impossible at a bricks-and-mortar town hall meeting.
“It’s a great way to reach out to people,” he said. “I’m new to it, too. It’s the first one I ever did but I know I’ll be doing more of them.”
– George Mathewson