Quebec ad firms not equipped for war on terror


Electoral Member
Mar 27, 2002
Montréal, Quebec
Quebec ad firms not equipped for war on terror

(The Toronto Star)

The federal Liberals are starting to think maybe, just maybe, it was a mistake to turn the war on terrorism over to Liberal-friendly firms and Quebec advertising outfits.

Not that you can entirely blame them for the strategy. After all, when they were worried Quebec would go its own way, they came up with this sponsorship scheme, and funnelled millions of dollars into the province through all these firms, and while it's true this money wasn't properly accounted for, and the agencies charged pretty outrageous commissions for not doing very much, you have to judge by results, right? Is Quebec still in Canada or not?

We know the answer to that question.

So it must have seemed like a good idea at the time, getting the same folks who'd kept the country together to keep it safe from nasty terrorists. But now that the auditor-general, Sheila Fraser (like, her again — it's hard not to imagine her as the kid who always had her hand up in class with the right answer), says Canadians didn't get as much as they should have for the $7.7 billion the Liberals spent to protect them.


The Liberals offered, through the ad firms, $1 million to Osama bin Laden if he would put a Canadian flag patch on his backpack while wandering through the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Except, by the time the offer reached him, the ad firms had pocketed $997,654.43 for their trouble, and instead of a big patch, it was one of those tiny Canadian flag lapel pins. And Osama didn't even have a sports jacket to pin it to.

About $10 million was given to the firms to make fancy posters that would go up in employee lounges in major Canadian airports that read: "If you've got a criminal background, and have been keeping it to yourself, please please pretty please inform your supervisor. Let's keep Canada safe!"

But by the time the money dribbled down to the actual sign makers, there was only enough to make a handful of smaller ones, posted above sinks in employee washrooms, that read: "If you've been handling highly explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer, please wash your hands."

Nearly $4 million was spent for an anti-terror festival in Moose Jaw. There were rides, a petting zoo, a talent show, a beauty queen competition, and an apple-bobbing contest, all built around the theme: "Terrorists Not Welcome Here." The festival was considered a success, given that not a single known terrorist showed up.

Liberal pals running Canada Post were given $30 million to develop a specially treated anti-terrorist stamp, which, when licked, would render the user unconscious until after he'd been apprehended by the authorities. The only problem was getting the terrorists to buy the stamps, since most of them are using e-mail.

The ad agencies were given $15 million to place full-page newspaper ads in countries, like Syria and Libya and Iran, that are cozy with terrorists. They were supposed to carry a positive message about Canada, pointing out that it was filled with lots of nice, friendly people, with a kicker that read: "Just say no to terrorism." But by the time the commissions and expenses were taken care of, all that ran were a few lines in the classifieds that said: "Canada says buzz off, eh."

The Liberals' buddies at VIA Rail were given $70 million to develop an "anti-terrorist diesel engine" that would have fitted to the front, instead of the traditional "cow catcher," a device that would scoop up terrorists, toss them over the engine, and drop them into a special containment car. "The only problem," said one insider, "was trying to figure out how to get the terrorists to stand on the railway tracks, and keep them there once a train was coming."