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Fletcher laughing his head off

Bobble toys let MP connect with people

City MP Steven Fletcher has handed out 75 bobbleheads of himself since September. Constituents take photos of them in famous locales.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

City MP Steven Fletcher has handed out 75 bobbleheads of himself since September. Constituents take photos of them in famous locales.

THE free calendar federal MPs mail to their constituents has long been a standard political offering at this time of year.

But Steven Fletcher's constituency calendar is anything but standard as the Tory MP has bobbleheads in his own likeness featured in different scenes from his riding of Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia on every month of 2014.

From a bobblehead at a snow-covered Grant's Old Mill in January to a flag-waving bobblehead on the Harte Trail in July to a bobblehead gazing at a fighter jet in November, Fletcher is branding himself in a way that breaks new ground.

"Politics don't have to be serious all the time," Fletcher said. "You can get your message out in a fun way."

Fletcher, who is paralyzed from the neck down, started his Come Bobble With Me campaign in September as an advertising and outreach strategy. He has given out more than 75 bobbleheads to constituents, who take the figure on their trips and snap a photo.

So far Fletcher has collected a mixed bag of snapshots and short videos from the campaign.

Bobblehead Fletcher has been pictured in London, England, attending a Justin Timberlake concert, and dropping by the Kabul Military Training Centre in Afghanistan.

To receive a bobblehead, one needs to be nominated first. Fletcher said people in the community nominate their friends and family for a bobblehead.

And you don't have to be doing something extraordinary to be nominated, said Fletcher.

"For example, you can nominate the head of your school patrol team or someone serving in Afghanistan," he said. "It's the whole gamut."

Those who have bobbleheads are encouraged to post their pictures to social media and use the hash tag #ComeBobbleWithMe.

"In the clutter of media and everything else it's tough to break through," Fletcher said. "(The bobblehead) is fun and interactive and it also makes people aware of what I'm doing as an MP."

He said people following the hash tag are directed to his website or Facebook page. There they can read more about the public policy issues he is working on.

The timing of Fletcher's bobblehead campaign also coincided with his removal from cabinet in the summer.

Fletcher said the cabinet shuffle has allowed him to talk openly about issues on which he is working, and sometimes that involves the bobbleheads.

Fletcher said the bobbleheads were brought up at the conclusion of one media interview regarding assisted suicide.

"So it kind of lightened up the conversation a little bit," he said.

Fletcher said he is also learning more about his riding through the campaign.

"It begins a fun dialogue with the people who take the pictures, about the pictures themselves, and why they're nominated for the bobblehead," Fletcher said.

"The goal is also to have fun and have the bobblehead travel across the riding and across the world so we can see what people are doing. And also say a little bit of Winnipeg is here."

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

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