Veterans Affairs drops a bundle on Twitter

As Decoration Day approaches and as we gear up to mark the 70th anniversary of D Day it is appropriate to consider the way we are treating our veterans.   All indicators point to strained relations between veterans and the government who have pinched considerable pennies from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in recent years.   In fact a recent survey indicates that the majority of Canadians are of the opinion that we are not doing enough to support our veterans.  


The poll findings shouldn’t be that surprising after years of bad headlines for items like the closure of regional offices or revelations that injured veterans were being shown the door before accumulating enough service to receive a pension – all done in the name of saving cash.  But just this week we learned that, despite hard economic times, Veteran’s Affairs was able to pony up $100,000 (yes one hundred thousand dollars!) to promote their postings (tweets) on Twitter.   If you are shaking your head in disbelief, I am confident that you have company.


It is one thing to strip a department to the bone while claiming that times are tight and everyone has to share in some of the difficulty, and quite another to turn around and drop a small fortune to promote brief, short-lived postings on social media.  Most people can appreciate the difference, the government can’t.  In fact the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs says it just would have been spent on advertising somewhere else.   That penchant for constant self-promotion is turning into a hallmark of this government.


When it comes to propaganda, the Conservatives can’t be accused of dropping the ball.   They are shameless self-promoters and have no difficulty finding money to buy expensive advertising slots like the ones during hockey broadcasts.  This is a government that spent 14 million dollars in one day to send cabinet ministers across the country to promote their budget.   Another of their spending sprees built a temporary media centre that cost taxpayers $2million and featured the infamous fake lake.  They advertised heavily for a job plan that didn’t exist and now are finding money to promote tweets.


The full court press on advertising might be easier to take if Canadians weren’t being told to expect less from their cash-strapped government.  That any additional money for Veterans Affairs is not finding a way to make things a little easier for our veterans is an affront to the commitment and sacrifice that those proud Canadians made on our behalf.  This does not mean that there shouldn’t be communication between the government and the citizens of Canada, and obviously some of that will be through advertising.   The problem is the advertising is mostly designed to paint positive impressions of the government instead of being informative or useful.