Sometimes I enjoy watching ads. I look forward to seeing Westjet’s latest Christmas surprise and I never tire of watching the Tangerine ad that honours difficult work days. I especially enjoyed the pro-diversity Superbowl ads this year from AirBnB, Coco Cola, Budweiser and 84Lumber. Their messages pushed against rising xenophobia and instead promoted human decency, the idea of one human family, the concept of “we”.
There’s another ad on regular repeat on our screens these days that also attempts to evoke a common sense of purpose: the B.C. Liberal government “Our Opportunity is Here” ad. This is not an ad I enjoy watching at all.
Launched in late November last year, the ad campaign is supposed to be about informing citizens about government services and programs.
But I wonder if citizens see the irony in the launching of a campaign focused on government services and programs just weeks after the Supreme Court of Canada rebuked the B.C. Liberals for cheating a generation of students out of critically important services they needed for their education?
It takes a significant depth of cynicism to launch a $15 000 000 advertising campaign weeks after your government has been censured for actions that resulted in the removal of $4 billion in funding for education, a critically important government program.
But what is particularly galling is Premier Clark’s professed “excitement” at having the opportunity to invest in education that the ruling supposedly gave her, the same opportunity she discarded when, as Minister of Education, she introduced the legislation that the Supreme Court found in violation of the constitutional rights of teachers.
Piles of discarded opportunities dot the landscape of the BC Liberal’s legacy.
Some of these discarded opportunities have dollar figures attached to them: the $3.02 billion that we lose by shipping raw logs out of the province; the billions we lose in revenue each year because the royalty we collect for our natural gas resource is almost negligible.
But some of the discarded opportunities cannot be calculated in dollars: these are the lost opportunities to have made a difference to an entire generation of students with learning disabilities, and students with mental health needs, while they struggled to keep up in overcrowded, under-resourced schools.
Some discarded opportunities are simply heartbreaking as when the Ministry of Children and Families prioritizes the balancing of their budget above saving the lives of the 120 children who died in government care last year alone.
It’s for reasons like these that I see something different whenever those bright shiny “opportunity” ads flash on my TV screen.
Everyone working two or three jobs at minimum wage because one is not enough to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Everyone on social assistance trying to survive on $610 per month.
All first responders burnt out from dealing with the healthcare crisis in the streets.
Everyone who has spent 5 hours in an emergency waiting room.
Everyone disgusted by the “pay for play” $10 000/plate dinners.
Everyone distraught by the environmental destruction from Mount Polley, anxious about the threat of burst pipelines, angry at the obscenity of the grizzly bear hunt, frustrated with the state of BC Parks.
Everyone annoyed by the hidden taxes in BC Hydro increases, MSP fees, ICBC rates.
Imagine a province where people, not profiteering, come first. Where politicians actually behave like public servants, not sycophants for corporations.
Where politicians spend more than 30 days a year in the Legislature.
Imagine a province where foreign billionaires can’t buy political favours.
Imagine a province with a Poverty Reduction Plan.
With $15/hour minimum wage.
With $10/day daycare
With public education funded to the Canadian average.
Early voting begins on 29 April.
OUR OPPORTUNITY IS HERE