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The Government of Canada cares about me. It really, really, cares about me!
That’s how I felt when I tucked myself into bed one night last week after having attended a presentation on the new Anti-Spam legislation.
Just in case you missed it, as of Canada Day, commercial electronic messages sent without the permission of the recipient could be subject to a $10 Million fine. In the realm of whether or not the Government means business, that is a monster penalty.
It made me feel kind of warm and tingly all over—starry-eyed in fact—that the Prime Minister of Canada (PMoC) cares so much about protecting me from unsolicited advertising.
The big picture is that the Government is trying to do right by us, and that’s what really matters. Isn’t it?
Unfortunately, love, whether it’s the handsome-stranger-at-the-cabana-bar or the jonesing-for-votes kind, quickly sours in the cold, hard light of day. My flight of fancy that PMoC’s gallant campaign against Spam was evidence of true concern was no exception.
I crashed to earth the next morning, when I saw my actual mail box being stuffed to overflowing by my letter carrier. There were 5 pieces in all, 4 were pure junk, and 3 of those were from fast food outlets.
With all the talk about the ills of unsolicited advertising fresh in my mind, I found it strange that 60% of Canada Post’s business that day was to distribute food porn to Canadians—a good number of whom, including me, are fighting the battle of the bulge, and its related diseases, at no small cost to taxpayers.
I began to wonder: Why does PMoC only care about one type of junk mail? What makes unsolicited electronic advertising so much more nefarious than the unsolicited paper kind? Why wage war on one, and not the other?
While glaring inconsistencies between branches of Government—which includes, in my mind, Crown corporations who are instruments of public policy—are more or less what we’ve come to expect these days, this strikes me as a particularly egregious example of whack-a-mole legislation. Let’s face it, folks, unsolicited advertising will simply change channels, clogging up mail boxes one way or the other.
The spirit of Spam will remain as ubiquitous as the mystery-meat from the famous Monty Python skit. Our options, metaphorically-speaking, will still be various combinations of Spam: Egg and spam, egg, bacon and spam, egg, bacon sausage and spam, spam, bacon, sausage and spam...and so on.
It’s no surprise that I feel a little like the dowager in drag, crowing, to no avail, “Haven’t you got anything without any spam in it?”
And while I’m no conspiracy theorist, I find it curious that the fringe benefit of all this bureaucratic busy-work will be the propping-up of the fragile business model of Canada Post. As a recent report in The Whig pointed out, Anti-Spam legislation won’t hurt big businesses because they “can still afford to send a lot of mail.”
In this paradoxical junk-mail dialogue it’s also worth remembering that, just over a year ago, Canada Post sent nearly one million Canadians a letter touting its virtues, asking those who had opted out to opt back in to unaddressed ad mail saying it “helps Canadians connect with their communities.”
Feeling angry and confused, I did my best to avert my eyes from the burgers and fries but the damage had been done. By lunch time, I was coaxing my inner child down from a ledge, trying to convince her why a spinach salad was a better choice than a Happy Meal.
The truth is I’d love it if my home were the one place on earth where food advertisers couldn’t reach me. But opting out of unsolicited advertising, as I was about to learn from canadapost.ca, is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition which involves the suppression of important stuff like municipal service notices, including, schedules of snow removal and changes in garbage pickup.
Let me see if I’ve got this straight: To protect myself from heavily varnished images of artery-clogging food, I need to sever my ties to...my Municipality? I guess that makes sense... if you have an acquired brain injury and can’t tell the difference between apples and oranges.
And I guess one branch of Government taking a hard-line against unsolicited advertising, while a Crown Corporation encourages it, makes sense... if you missed the all-important life-lesson about why you can’t suck and blow at the same time.
Maybe PMoC and his minions are counting on the fact that most of us are asleep at the wheel, and don’t give a hoot about contradictory public policy.
Or maybe I just need to relax and order a few pina coladas and then all the bafflegab will begin to make sense. It’s worth a try, I guess. It works like a charm at the cabana bar.