*This article appears in the Fall 2016 issue of the Union Stand.
If you watch cable TV or spend any amount of time online, you probably noticed that “McNeil’s Movers” returned this fall!
This campaign was originally launched by the NSGEU last fall, on Labour Day, with the goal of raising awareness of the threat of cuts and privatization being made by Stephen McNeil and his provincial Liberal government.
Despite a recent increase in immigration, our province’s demographic trends are moving in a troubling direction: downward. People are leaving our province, because there are fewer and fewer opportunities to be found here.
Under the leadership of McNeil and his Liberal government, we’re seeing even more good jobs and services being cut and put at risk. So far, they’ve closed seven satellite courthouses and 13 land registry offices in rural communities; eliminated jobs in Child Protection and closed Day Spring, a treatment centre for at-risk children; completely abolished the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, as well as Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia; closed visitor information centres & cut jobs at our Provincial Parks; slashed funding to a wide range of non-profit and community groups; gutted the Film Tax Credit; eliminated the Graduate Retention Rebate, and removed the tuition cap for young Nova Scotians. They were planning to privatize the Land Registry, Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Registry of Joint Stocks and contract out our home care services, but the backlash from the public was intense, and they backed away from these initiatives.
Still, they are moving to privatize hospital food services and are threatening to unleash the newly-created “Department of Business” on whatever “noncore” public services are left, for further privatization… or outright elimination.
The campaign takes a cheeky approach to a very serious subject. The concept is simple: cuts & privatization are essentially shutting down communities, as Nova Scotians are driven to leave the province for work. “McNeil’s Movers” is the moving company that is facilitating this – “driving you and your family out of Nova Scotia with every service and job privatized!” Privatization means cuts. It means McNeil is shipping out the services and jobs that make Nova Scotia what it is.
We launched the second round of McNeil’s Movers commercials on September 12th, after the Board or Directors and Executive team voted in favour of continuing the campaign.
This time around, our movers are trying to call attention to the fact that the McNeil Liberals are very different than Justin Trudeau and the Federal Liberals. By pointing out that they are actually two different governments, we hope to counter some of the popularity that Premier McNeil is enjoying by riding on Trudeau’s coat-tails.
This ad also points to the negative affects McNeil’s government’s decisions have had on Nova Scotia – putting the “No” in Nova Scotia, and underscores what our recent polling has told us: that while the Liberals remain popular, the vast majority of Nova Scotians cannot point to a single positive, constructive thing this government has accomplished so far. We take aim at their decision to essentially write a blank-cheque to operators of the Cat ferry – not because we are against supporting tourism in Yarmouth, but because this particular deal has been exceptionally bad.
The ads ran for two weeks on high rotation on most major television networks and were featured prominently online, both through network pre-roll and Facebook advertisement.
The response to this campaign has been overwhelmingly positive: It was even parodied on “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.” It’s clear that Nova Scotians understand that many of the decisions the McNeil government has made have hurt communities and families. In fact, our research shows that the vast majority of Nova Scotians cannot name a single positive thing this government has done since they were elected in October 2013.
Together, we can all help to stop McNeil’s Movers as they try and move our vital public services and the people who do that important work out of our province.
You can follow the campaign on Twitter (@McNeilsMovers) and Facebook.com/McNeilsMovers for all the latest on the Liberals’ attempts to cut and privatize our public services.