The CBC managed to do something few Canadians can reasonably aspire to do. It got information from this federal government. Go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor—this actually happened. It was worth the trouble. It turns out the feds were hiding a pretty spicy meatball in the archives up on Parliament Hill.
According to polls, many Canadians don’t have faith in this government’s ability to protect the environment. That’s a big shock. Psych! No it isn’t. If you thought it was, you’ve been spending too much time in the PMO. Actually, even the PMO had to know about this, because it conducted all these polls.
The secret polls that the PMO conducted, and begrudgingly surrendered, found that only half of Canadians think that developing the tar sands is worth the environmental risk. Almost two thirds think that this government is doing a “somewhat poor” or “very poor” job of balancing economic growth and environmental protection. Only a quarter of Canadians thought that this government could adequately respond to an oil spill on land or water. Most damning of all, only one fifth had heard anything about government efforts to protect Canada from an oil spill.
These polls should teach the federal Conservatives a valuable lesson. Clearly, Canadians do not watch TV or read billboards. If they did, they would have seen the Action Plan ads, which prove definitively that most Canadians hold invalid and unsound opinions about the environment and resource development. Hello, it’s called “responsible resource development” for a reason. Yet, somehow, that message isn’t getting through. So is there another way to deliver it?
Maybe they can lure the public into following Joe Oliver on Twitter. The ironic clash between hip Twitter and old-enough-to-break-a-hip Joe Oliver should attract a few young people, at the very least. Maybe they could latch on to that tattoo advertising fad—a tattoo advertising website says it’s a great way for people to earn “BIG $$$$$”. The Conservatives should be comfortable with that, given that they already dole out tens of millions of dollars on the Action Plan TV ads. If they want to pinch pennies, they could probably pay Pierre Poilievre significantly less money to tattoo “Responsible Resource Development” on his forehead and shave “Action Plan” on the side of his head. That’s two ads on one person…still 37 fewer ads than types of ID that person could present in order to vote. Wow!
The question the Conservatives should ask, though, is whether any of this is really worth it. Sure, the polls they commissioned show that they are sucking a big one on the environment, but does it matter? They have been polling around 30% since most Canadians can remember (to clarify, by convention, one Canadian memory is less than half an election cycle). Yes, they are completely screwed if Canadians decide that the environment is an important election issue. Realistically, though, that is not likely to happen. In order for Canadians to start caring about the environment they would have to tune out “jobs, growth, and prosperity”. The only way that is going to happen is if people actually get jobs. Knowing this federal government, there is no way that’s going to happen. Keep them jobless; keep them wanting. Every four years they’ll chant #WeAreWinter and forget about the whole thing. It’ll take a few decades for winter to disappear, so there is still a strong, stable, majority government on the horizon.