The True North Times
  • First to podcast with Wilfrid Laurier
  • For the sophisticated hoser
  • Winnipeg? There?
  • Ineligible for the Supreme Court
  • The only thing that Andrew Coyne DOESN'T hate
  • Exporting Beaver Hides to the Metropol since 1608
  • Now with 60 minute hours!
  • Peter Mansbridge’s bathroom reading material
  • It's Dynamite!
  • Yet to be castrated by Margaret Wente

 

People have every right to be confused. One day, the government introduces legislation that would allow it to see everything people do online, and, a little while later, that same government says, ‘you know what, I don’t care anymore‘. What the hell is that all about?

As of today, Canada’s Conservative government doesn’t want its pollsters asking any more questions about what Canadians thought of its Economic Action Plan ads. Why not? It turns out Canadians weren’t responding to them. It took the government several years to figure this out, but now that it has caught on, there is only one appropriate course of action. In order to uphold a Conservative tradition, members of the government have to plug their ears and scream until the bad news goes away. This evidence avoidance therapy may seem childish at first, but it is actually quite helpful.

How else could the government justify the continued spending of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on the Action Plan ad campaign?  In short, it probably couldn’t. Government-commissioned polls show that few Canadians recognize the Action Plan brand, and that only a small number of those who see Action Plan ads actually follow up with a visit to the Action Plan website or a call to the Action Plan phone number.  Common sense suggests that the government should either revise or cancel the ads. Or does it? This ‘common sense’ government seems to prefer sacking the messenger. Maybe it’s a difference in common sense…when a government is this common, sometimes those sorts of differences arise.

It seems trivial to point out that the Action Plan doesn’t actually exist anymore. No, wait—it’s not trivial at all. In fact, it might be the reason why so few Canadians can relate to the brand. Imagine a commercial telling you to buy something that doesn’t exist. It’s not very memorable for anything other than its stupidity.

The same is true for this government. Once you realize that it’s been spending our money to sell us a program that doesn’t exist, it goes down in history as a pretty stupid government. We can safely say it’s stupid because, as the polls that are no longer being conducted show, the plan isn’t working. If people had recognized the brand and associated it with the government, the Action Plan might be one of Canada’s greatest dirty tricks. But, as we’ve established, that isn’t the case.

Stupidity aside, many readers remain justifiably confused about whether the government wants to know everything or nothing about Canadians. If this Action Plan debacle has taught us anything, it’s that there probably isn’t a clear answer. The governing Conservatives remain committed to doing whatever furthers their cause. If that means scaring people into thinking that we need them patrolling the internet, so be it. If that means spending millions on an advertising campaign for a fake stimulus program, that’s fine too. If the evidence that they paid ~$400,000 to collect demonstrates that the advertising money was a waste, they don’t have to care. It isn’t their money anyway, and, if most Canadians are too busy to notice the Economic Action Plan ads plastered on every road, bridge, and hockey game across the country, this government might reason that Canadians are too busy to check their federal bank account. The onus is on us to prove them wrong.