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How much is a political pie recipe worth at Christmas?

Joyce Walter writes about a new take on fundraising by the NDP
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

How much would I pay for a recipe for a tourtiere pie, the secret family recipe of a provincial politician? That is a puzzling question for which I am contemplating a suitable answer.

Payment isn’t generally part of the recipe-sharing traditions of rural Saskatchewan or even urban Saskatchewan or points in between for that matter. There has always been give and take between friends and strangers. A salad recipe in exchange for a banana loaf recipe is how the system usually works. And there’s some ego involved as well when someone compliments my chili recipe and asks about my secret ingredient. (It could be brown sugar or a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.)

With all those recipe-sharing traditions in mind, I was amazed that a price would be a requirement to learn how to build this politician’s recipe for tourtiere pie when the internet is flooded with dozens of such recipes, with no fee attached.

But what a genius way to raise money for the party coffers. In fact the whole exercise leading to the monetary request was a marvel of marketing, and I have to admit I was totally engaged until the very last moment.

It all started with an e-mail headlined with the name of the sender — sorry, don’t know him, but the subject matter was a teaser: “how well do you know our MLAS, Joyce? Take our quiz.”

The use of my name lured me in and I clicked on and opened the e-mail to discover it came from the provincial New Democratic Party. Getting to know those NDP MLAs in our province’s Opposition Party seemed to be the intent. So I played along after reading a teaser about the leader’s family recipe. “…an added surprise for those who make it to the end. (Let’s say you’re in for a treat if you do.)”

Those who know me might be surprised at how much I know about our NDP representatives in the Legislature but the clues in the quiz were easy to follow and resulted in a 100 per cent score for my efforts.

I won’t spoil the quiz for others who might have received the same e-mail. I will, however, reveal some information about Leader Ryan Meili’s quiz question so I’ll apologize in advance, or maybe I can be thanked for giving away one of the answers.

I read the intro to his question: “Ryan Meili doesn’t mince words when he talks about his favourite dish from Quebec (which he makes using a recipe passed down through generations of his family.)”

The choice of answers: sugar cookies, tourtiere, roasted brussels sprouts or Nanaimo bars. The answer: tourtiere. The reason: Meili’s spouse is from Quebec and he grew up with Fransaskois neighbours (around Coderre and Courval) so he celebrates Christmas the French way, opening presents after mass on Christmas Eve and making tourtiere from his (Irish) grandma’s recipe. Irish tourtiere? 

At the end of the quiz I am thanked for my participation and asked if I am curious about the family’s tourtiere recipe. “Ah,” I thought, “A moment of transparency from a political figure.

“Thankfully he’s not keeping a secret any longer,” the quiz authors reported.

I figured I would be directed to a link where the recipe would be revealed, all ingredients accounted for. Nope, the real surprise promised for the end of the quiz was a request for money.  

“Chip in $5 or more to support our work and we’ll send the recipe to your e-mail.”

I burst out laughing at this point and called on Housemate to share my mirth at being sucked in so cleverly and to congratulate the party for this kind of ingenuity in its fundraising efforts.

The e-mail offered varying amounts over the $5 figure, suggesting different methods of making donations, even going so far as to calculate any forthcoming tax credit.

Sooo, the question remains: Will I pay $5 to obtain the tourtiere recipe? 

How about I circumvent the leader himself and call his father, an acquaintance of ours for many years, and ask if I could get the recipe from him in exchange for say, a chicken breast taco recipe?

Or maybe the leader might be willing to bargain with me in the give and take spirit of the season. Even if he holds out for $5, I would be interested in learning how many others who received the e-mail eventually were gifted with the recipe.

Thanks for a light-hearted glimpse into the party’s marketing brilliance. Good work everyone! Now, how about that recipe?

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.