FREDERICTON – A new $300,000 advertising campaign created to help the Liberal government lure expatriates and newcomers to New Brunswick seems to be saying all the right things about the benefits of life in this province.
But the ads came under fire yesterday when it was revealed they will not appear on television anywhere outside New Brunswick, though they will also appear online.
Conservative leader David Alward said he supports bringing New Brunswickers home.
But he said the ads, which each feature Premier Shawn Graham, are just being used to promote the Liberal government to New Brunswick voters.
“If we are going to try to reach out to expatriates, we need to be promoting and selling that opportunity outside of the province, in Quebec and Ontario and in the West,” said Alward.
“I think it’s important to get the word out that there are jobs here, there are good paying jobs here that people maybe aren’t aware of,” said Business New Brunswick Minister Greg Byrne.
“It is just running in New Brunswick right now, we have targeted a New Brunswick audience . . . We want to make sure New Brunswickers are aware of the situation at home.”
Byrne, who is responsible for the province’s Population Growth Secretariat, said the campaign is a retention and recruitment campaign that will also be available on the Internet to promote a newly renovated employment site: NBjob.ca
Alward said the Liberal government can find better use for the funds attributed to the $300,000 campaign, which was created by Revolution Strategies, a firm that managed Graham’s past election campaigns.
“If it’s only going to run in New Brunswick, I think that sends a pretty strong message of what they are trying to do,” said Alward.
“No wonder people are cynical about politics and what goes on.”
Alward said the ads prove the Liberal government is disconnected from average New Brunswickers, and more committed to its image than addressing the needs of people.
“It is another example of this government’s priorities,” said Alward.
“We know that food banks are struggling right now.”
The ads, which were created in English and French, feature testimonials from individuals and families that have moved, or immigrated, to the province and New Brunswickers who have returned home.
Charles Cirtwill, of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, agreed that the placement of the ads is somewhat peculiar.
“Unless it catches fire on the Internet it is going to be difficult to attract people back to New Brunswick if the ads are only running in New Brunswick,” he said.
Cirtwill said the ads could be an effort to re-enforce positive messages about New Brunswick within the province in order to encourage New Brunswickers to be more vocal about their province.
However, he said this type of marketing can only work if government is making fundamental improvements to the province.
“Marketing is nice but you have to have a product worth buying, so spending $300,000 on an ad campaign may not necessarily be a bad thing provided that the environment that attracts people to New Brunswick gets better,” said Cirtwill.
“What that translates to is an education system that is competitive nationally, and it isn’t right now. A health-care system that delivers at least a comparable level of quality and access, and it doesn’t right now. Same thing with the tax structure.”
Cirtwill said the province’s actions to reforms its tax structure will be indicative of whether there is substance behind the Liberal government’s style.
“Are they moving forward with it or was it all smoke and mirrors? It’s all about action, not so much about words.”
Byrne also announced that the Liberal government will be establishing a $200,000 fund for local organizations that work to keep young people in the province.
Municipalities, incorporated rural communities and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for funding through the Population Growth Secretariat.