This is a message for Premier Christy Clark’s spin doctors
We understand that you have a difficult task. Your client’s approval rating is at 31%, the third lowest amongst premiers in Canada. Her government is scandal-ridden. It’s going to be quite the battle to convince voters to give her another chance in May 2017.
But if you’re going to have any hope of success, our advice to you is to check her record before you roll out your next marketing ploy.
The “almost abused” story idea was brilliant in that it targeted a section of the electorate who are very vocal in their disapproval of your client: women who are parents and who are very active on social media. Facebook Moms your industry calls us.
Because all women live with a constant fear of being attacked and could relate to a story about an attack, this was definitely a deft move. You knew that most people would miss the part of the story that revealed that there was no actual sex involved in the attack other than that the attacker was male.
We noticed this little detail because we remember a time during the teachers’ strike in 2014 when your client went on television to tell parents who had children in public schools that teachers were demanding unlimited massages in their negotiations with her government.
When you prepped your client for that broadcast in 2014, the detail you missed was that she had already agreed with the nurses union about the benefits of massages. It was not what teachers had asked for; it was not what teachers were fighting for.
This boldfaced misrepresentation of the truth caught our attention not only because massages are one of our favourite gifts on Mothers’ Day, but because it was the first time we had a clear example of how convincingly your client can tell us that white is black.
We had missed her government’s shell game in 2002 when the massive cuts to education funding began, when they started telling us that they were providing more funding when it was actually less.
At the time we were too busy to notice the slick sleight of hand. As you marketers know, we Facebook Moms juggle many jobs.
So when our children’s school supply lists got longer and longer, and the occasional fundraisers became more regular, we didn’t pay much attention, attributing that to changes in classroom activities.
But during the 2014 strike we had a very rude awakening. We learned that teachers had been spending a lot of their own money on classroom supplies. We learned that many students with special needs were not getting the support they needed. We learned about three-year waiting lists for psychological assessments. About libraries without librarians. About leaky roofs, mould, rats and asbestos at the schools our children attended.
We channelled our anger into action. We wrote letters to our MLAs, we signed petitions, we camped outside MLA’s offices, we protested in front of the Legislature, we begged your client to fully fund public education.
In response we got scripted speeches and a lot of bafflegab about billions of dollars. We were assured that our children were attending one of the best public education systems in the world.
We didn’t believe your client and her minions.
We believed what we saw with our own eyes in our children’s schools.
And so we organized ourselves.
We formed FACE.
We began to do our own research and recorded what we found.
When we uncovered the truth about public education funding, we began to demand answers. We made a lot of noise, loud enough for your client to begin to dribble out crumbs of funding through highly publicized media events.
We remained unimpressed.
Your client’s favourability was not increasing.
You had to do something to change that because there is less than a year before the next election.
And so, while massive media attention is being focused on sexual violence against women, you thought that your client could ride that wave of awareness with a story of her own.
But, before you advised her to make her story public, you should have checked her record.
If you had, you would have known that when she was Deputy Premier, her government cancelled all core funding to women’s services in the province. Cancelled it.
You would have known that when her government gutted Legal Aid funding it disproportionally affected women who were seeking justice in the courts.
You would have known that these two actions have resulted in thousands of women, who have actually (not almost) experienced sexual violence, not having any access to counselling support or to justice.
On the day that your client made her disclosure, just one of the organizations that rely on fundraising and donations in their work to support women, had a waiting list of 200 women who needed counselling for the trauma that they had experienced. With only a skeleton staff, it will take WAVAW years before they can get through that list.
We know that there are thousands more women waiting.
To our astonishment, when the facts about the decimation of supports for women were revealed in responses to your client’s disclosure, she maintained that funding was not the issue, that it was more important that the “culture” be changed.
Did she mean the culture she was perpetuating by shaming women about what they wore?
Perhaps the culture that needs to be changed is one where a politician uses any means necessary to manipulate voters through media spin.
Before you organize your client’s next smoke and mirrors show, know this: while we Facebook Moms fight for the full restoration of public education funding, your client has now made us more fully aware of where else our focus should be.
Not exactly the result that you wanted, is it?
So, take our advice: check your client’s record before you spin us a new one.