Years ago, I was fortunate enough to have the Canadian Criminal Code explained to me by a veteran RCMP officer.
"There's only one offence in there," he said. "Stupidity. Everything else is a subsection. When a guy goes to court, the charge should be read out as, 'Your honour, this man is an idiot - and he drove drunk. And he broke into a house. And he sold drugs. And he shot someone.'"
Funny, yes, but with an underlying grain of truth.
The officer's comments came to mind this week as the ethnic voter strategy blew up in the faces of the provincial Liberal government. Like those slow-thinkers and poor planners who get frogmarched into court to face the judge, the Liberals' biggest crime here is they were stupid and they got caught.
The wryly-amusing thing about the entire hullabaloo is how the reaction to the Liberals' strategy has resulted in the leaders of assorted ethnic communities facing a sea of microphones seeking their reaction to such heartless pandering by the powers that be.
Invariably, these people expressed their shock and surprise that the government could be so callous and disingenuous.
The hard, cold truth these groups conveniently ignore as they smile obligingly for the photo op alongside the political suits bearing oversized government cheques is that every political party with a puncher's chance of election has such strategies.
Every electoral riding has distinct demographics and in their zeal to appear to be all things to all people, the politicians have to play to the crowd they hope to win over.
Surrey has a fistful of legislative seats and a population that checks in at roughly 25 per cent with South Asian roots.
With this in mind, it's natural that all political parties pay special attention to Surrey's South Asian community. This includes literature and lawn signs with Punjabi script and regular appearances on South Asian media outlets.
It also leads politicians like Sue Hammell and Penny Priddy to don saris and march in the annual Vaisakhi Parade while former premier Gordon Campbell keeps pace by wearing a rumal on his head when he visits Sikh temples.
And of course they have to do this because if a rival were to show up for the event without the correct apparel, a minor hubbub would quickly break out centring on the wayward politician's lack of respect for the culture and traditions of the community.
The most comical thing about ethnic dress-up day for the politicos is they actually think the South Asian voters can be swayed by such behaviour.
It's as if they believe the spectators are watching with score cards and thinking, "OK, we have three NDP and three Liberals here today, what do we do now?"
It's not just ethnic groups who receive this special treatment from the political machines. Women are targeted, working class voters have a message just for them, promises of crime penalties appeal to the elderly even as the crime rate drops and, in areas with large gay populations, politicians scramble for prominence in the annual Pride Parade.
Heck, if cowboys had enough political clout, I'm sure we would be seeing politicians dressed up as rodeo clowns and dodging snot-spraying bulls in an effort to appeal to such a coveted demographic.
In the recently concluded U.S. presidential elections, the pundits breaking down the vote paid close attention to where the votes were coming from.
Barack Obama won in large part because he appealed to ethnic and female voters while Mitt Romney couldn't find enough idle rich voters to push him over the top.
Wooing voters from targeted demographics is a special skill and the people who do it well make a good living bouncing from election to election and serving as consultants to assorted political parties.
These hired guns come in, strategize and work the phones for the party paying their bills, and then move on to the next campaign before the lawn signs have all been taken down.
Creating a plan aimed at wooing different segments of the population is definitely not foolish.
However, using government staff and resources to create and fine-tune this plan and then leaving a paper trail proving its existence is, without a doubt, stupid.
And by amazing coincidence, the Liberals' stupidity was leaked mere weeks before a provincial election. What are the odds of that happening?
Michael Booth can be reached at mbooth@ thenownewspaper.com