There’s a spectacle playing out on Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar’s Facebook Fan Page, and it’s challenging the notion of volunteerism, particularly as it applies to democratic engagement.
For as long as I can remember, political hopefuls from all ideologies (Rhinoceros, Green, NDP, Liberal, Conservative, Reform, and the list goes on) have invited and accepted volunteers to help on election campaigns. Many, again from all ideologies, have pet issues for which they invite and accept volunteer support. Many community groups and charities do the same. They look for a broad spectrum of skills including telephone, writing, fundraising, marketing, design, and the list goes on, to help achieve specific goals.
Few people get public credit for their volunteer contributions on these campaigns, and few (if anyone) have ever questioned this dynamic.
Despite this history, Paul Dewar apparently touched a nerve on his Facebook Fan Page this week when he posted an invitation for anyone “feeling creative” to submit logo and tagline ideas for a pet issue (Note, Dewar posted an open invitation, not one specifically for professional artists or designers).
According to the invitation, the submissions are to be reviewed and the winning design will be owned by Dewar’s office and used with attribution. It’s a voluntary contest, so submissions are likely to be made by people interested in contributing their efforts to this this issue. People who feel this is an attempt at taking advantage of someone’s talent and exploiting intellectual property rights are likely to take a pass
You are asking for a design/brand that you are going to use publicly, and your office will retain intellectual property, but you are not going to pay for it(?) The winning participant will receive credit for their ideas?! Come on, seriously? Accreditation is not a prize; you cannot award what is already deserved by right. [5 likes at the time of this post]
There is some sort of professional standard which frowns upon real designnets doing this sort of free work. They should be paid! [4 likes at the time of this post]
Proper credit isn’t a prize. It’s what all artists and designers are rightfully entitled to for their work. [5 likes at the time of this post]
So, what is the threshold for democratic engagement? Where do we draw the line on what MPs are entitled to ask for? At what point should volunteers become paid contributors?
Perhaps things might go more smoothly if politicians changed the language to something more familiar to the professional world.
Which reminds me, the Vancouver Ice Caps, a for-profit professional soccer team, is looking for THREE FULL-TIME, UNPAID INTERNS to fill vacancies in marketing, product marketing and graphic design.