Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

I found this poster taped to my front window yesterday morning. My house is a commercial building. It looks like a vacant storefront but I live behind that facade. The heading reads "PUBLIC NOTICE - POSSIBLE NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE FACILITY" It is huge, about 3 feet by 5 feet.

For a few seconds I thought my building had been condemned without my knowledge. When one reads down to the fine print one realizes that it is a poster encouraging people to vote for green policies in the by-election that was conducted yesterday in my riding. I'm troubled by this campaign strategy which I discovered to be hatched and paid for by WWF, Greenpeace, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club, Ontario Clean Air Alliance and the David Suzuki Foundation.

I'm a strong proponent of green initiatives. Over the last several elections I have encouraged many people to consider voting for the Green Party. I've convinced friends of mine who may be considered to be mainstream capitalist voters to actually vote for the Green Party. I think I have been successful largely because of the strengths of my arguments. I also feel that the message is more likely to be effective if it is coming from someone to whom the voter can relate. Aside from my predilection for black clothing I appear to fit in quite easily with the so-called mainstream. This allows me to sneak up and change the minds of accountants and lawyers who would otherwise just walk away from someone espousing green policies.

Much of the environmentalist strategy to win votes is woefully inadequate. It is often a premier example of preaching to the choir. A case in point would be the poster I found on my window. Who do they hope to sway with this tactic? Thousands of people walked or drove by before I took down the poster. Ninety-five percent of them didn't read past the headline. How many of them years later will drive by and think "wasn't there some nuclear contamination in that building?" When the building and the neighbourhood is tainted property owners become resentful.

The only people who will stop and read it and then say "yeah, that's right, I support that" will be people who already support that. Others will be angry at the scare tactics employed. Haven't we had enough of scare tactics to win votes over these last several years?

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