The Alberta government’s $8 million campaign to “educate Canadians and Albertans” about the impacts of the federal government’s proposed new emissions regulations has begun rolling out across the country.
The campaign, which involves a wide range of television, web, social, billboard and other forms of advertising, will last just over a month, until November 2, when the federal government public entry period on net zero emissions standards is nearing completion.
It is being run in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, chosen because they are the regions “most affected by the regulations,” a spokesperson for the province said.
“The campaign aims to educate Canadians and Albertans about the impacts of these unaffordable regulations and encourage the federal government to make the changes necessary to keep Canada’s electricity affordable and reliable,” wrote Ryan Fournier, spokesperson for Rebecca Schulz. , Alberta Environment Minister. and protected areas, in a statement.
Last week, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said her government was preparing a motion for the Sovereignty Act in an effort to oppose Ottawa’s planned emissions reductions. The Alberta Electricity System Operator (AESO), the organization responsible for operating the province’s power grid, had said clean electricity regulations could lead to blackouts.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has said his government shares AESO’s goals of achieving decarbonization while maintaining affordability and reliability.
It’s a fight that will likely drag on for months or even years, and the advertising campaign indicates that much of this debate is not being fought over technical arguments, said Daniel Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.
“It’s a political fight between the Alberta government and the feds. I think whatever numbers are put on the table, they can be spun one way or another,” Béland said.
“It’s part of a broader debate about climate change and how to address it.”
Advertisements hit the airwaves
In one of the radio advertisements, the voice of an unidentified woman is heard from above.
“When Ottawa’s proposed electrical regulations make electricity unreliable, the things you rely on won’t work when needed,” says the woman, who proceeds to list various conveniences and tools, with dramatic sound effects after each.
“Your hot water. Computer. Washer and dryer. Electric car. TV. Lights. Mobile phone. Stove. Your heating at -30.”
LISTEN | Two radio ads produced by the Alberta government focused on federal net-zero emissions standards:
CBC Calgary News1:04Alberta Radio Ads About Federal Net Zero Emissions Rules
The campaign has already started. Matthew Bowen, who grew up in Alberta, moved to Halifax six years ago. He listened to the campaign while driving.
“The ad came up and I thought, ‘This sounds really aggressive. Where is this coming from?'” Bowen said. “I expected it to be some kind of, I don’t know, a private campaign company or something.
“And then in the end it was paid for by the Alberta government. I thought, that’s a really strange ad to be running all the way out here.”
It made sense for the campaign to focus on provinces that may find it harder to comply with the new regulations, Béland said.
But he also said the government could be trying to send a political message to the United Conservative Party base.
“The goal is to put more pressure on the federal government to rally people from other provinces behind that fight, but it’s also to send a message to Albertans that Danielle Smith is picking a fight with the federal government,” he said.
“That’s something that’s consistent with their approach.”
Advertising investment and the complexity of the message.
Although $8 million is being concentrated on four provinces, it is not a substantial amount of money for such a campaign, according to Ken Wong, distinguished professor of marketing at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.
“What that means is they probably won’t be able to tell what I’ll call the full story: pros and cons. The $8 million will basically present a very one-sided message,” Wong said.
In Wong’s opinion, it will be an “extremely difficult” campaign to carry out in provinces outside of Alberta, given the expense and complex issues involved. There may already be a belief that this is “just another issue between Alberta and the feds,” she said.
“I’m sure the Alberta government will have great success in Alberta, but much less success in the other provinces it targets, unless it focuses on specific districts or specific individuals,” Wong said.
“It is, at best, a call to action for those who are already biased against what the federal government is trying to do.”
The lead advertising agency for the campaign is DDB Worldwide.