TV ads in hockey games or jobs for youth?

May 16, 2013


Earlier this spring, the Harper Conservatives faced a choice in their spending plans.

They could invest in jobs for unemployed young Canadians (especially summer jobs for students).  Or they could waste your tax dollars on expensive television advertising about their so-called “economic action plan” which is obviously a miserable failure as far as young people are concerned.

They chose the ads.  Hundreds of them.  Running day and night.  Nauseatingly repetitive. Costing many millions of tax dollars for production and for air-time.

Not counting production costs, just one television ad during “Hockey Night in Canada” costs $95,000 for 30-seconds on-the-air.  For that amount of money, the government could instead trigger more than 30 summer jobs for jobless students.

In other words, for each second — that’s right, every second — those brutal Harper ads are on the air, another unemployed young Canadian could have had a job, but is going without.  And your tax dollars are paying for it.  It’s a travesty.

And that’s not all.  Imagine what it costs to run Mr. Harper’s ads during the Super Bowl and the Oscars and the Juno’s and the Stanley Cup Finals!  Mega-bucks!

Conservatives say it’s no big deal.  They tell jobless young Canadians to stop whining.  Canada is doing better than the rest of the world, they claim, so we should all be happy.  But look again.  Canada is falling behind.

Under Stephen Harper, Canadian economic growth has been sub-standard for years.  The only  period in our history that’s been worse was the dismal era of R.B. Bennett.   Many other countries — the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and others — will exceed Canada’s mediocre growth expectations this year.

And for youth, the reality in most of Canada is still recession-like circumstances.

There are 231,000 fewer young Canadians working today than before the recession began in 2008.  Their jobless rate is running at a stubborn 14.5%, twice the rate for other Canadians.  That means more than 411,000 youth are out of work and actively looking for a job.

And that doesn’t include close to 180,000 others who have dropped out of the job market, because they don’t see much hope right now, not under this uncaring government.

The official statistics for youth unemployment are uniformly worsening in every indicator across the board.  Yet Mr. Harper is content with just the handful of summer jobs that his aloof and isolated government has funded, while his costly ads continue to contaminate the hockey playoffs.

Floundering from one disappointing mess to another, Stephen Harper seems increasingly walled-off from reality.  He seems to be in way over his head.

Ralph Goodale

Deputy Liberal Leader