PSAC ads attacking Conservatives serve as “wake-up call”

It’s shocking and aggressive, but the ad attacking the Conservatives over cuts to the environment is supposed to serve as a wake-up call to Canadians, says the regional executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada behind the ad.

“There’s a shock effect to it,” Larry Rousseau said in an interview on the Global News program The West block with Tom Clark.

“When you hear an alarm go off in the building, it’s aggressive isn’t it? And you want it to go off.”

The ad found on the website shows masked men in jackboots kicking down a woman’s door to the sounds of thumping music. The men go on to pour a bitumen-like substance into her fish tank, break her potted plants and even throw a lit cigar into her glass of water.

Story continues below advertisement

Rousseau said the ads are supposed to sound the alarm about environmental deregulation found in Conservative budgets.

“When you’ve taken 99.5 and 99. 7 per cent of our lakes and rivers no longer subject to environmental regulation at the federal level, this is serious. Very serious stuff,” he said.

Rousseau said there is perhaps an “artistic value” to the ads which serve as an analogy of innocence.

“What can be more innocent than the environment that we wish to leave to our children and future generations?” he said.

“We’re looking out for the public interest, not the corporate interest.”

When asked about the implication of violence against women, Rousseau said no one was harmed in making the ads.

“How do you think that Canada’s aboriginal communities feel right now when their cancer rates and their disease rates are going through the roof because of environmental pollution?”

“This is why we’re talking about a wake-up call. We are on the front lines. Our inspectors, environmental inspectors on the front lines, are seeing what’s happening. We’re being removed from the equation, so we are out there saying if this continues, we will no longer be able to fill our mandate to protect the health and the safety of Canadians.”

Story continues below advertisement

PSAC has released three videos so far – one about food inspection, another aviation inspection and this one, on environmental regulations.

Rousseau said ultimately the ads are about provoking debate.

“Canadians are going to have to make decisions in the coming months and years regarding where our country is going. That’s what we want. We want debate.”

In responding to the ads last week, NDP environment critic Megan Leslie said the videos are caricatures and a way to demonstrate frustrations with the government on environment.

“I think it’s a good reflection of how frustrated people are,” she said. “Whether it’s repealing the Environmental Assessment Act, whether it’s gutting the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act, I understand why Canadians are concerned. I understand why they’re frustrated because all of this is happening without any consultation.”

But Conservative Michelle Rempel, who is parliamentary secretary to the environment minister, called the videos “embarrassing fear-mongering.”

“There are many members of the public service that I work with and have a great deal of respect for, that work closely with our government on carrying out its mandate on a daily basis. And I think that those members would both be very concerned and disappointed,” said Rempel.

She said the government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars  into clean water initiatives, protected nearly 50 per cent more parkland than when they came into office, and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Story continues below advertisement

“These are all very positive things that Canada can be proud of not just at home, but also internationally. So it’s very disappointing to see this type of video.”