November is polling month in Newfoundland and Labrador. Corporate Research Associates goes to the field for its quarterly omnibus and marketing poll.
Historically, the Conservatives have skewed their public communications to the four times a year when CRA was collecting data for public opinion polls that the company will release publicly.
The goal was simple: the Conservatives wanted to manipulate the poll results. By and large, it worked. Then the Conservatives plummeted in the polls. In order to get out of their hole, the Conservatives have been on a relentless campaign to do what they have always done, but more intensely.
So it’s a little odd that people wondered what was going on when the Conservatives announced a hike in minimum wage last Friday. Look at the calendar.
There’s a bit more to it than the fact that Friday was the first day of polling month, though.
Look the announcement. itself. The provincial government will raise the minimum wage. Money announcements are a favourite for polling month. Government is giving people money. That’s always good news.
Notice, though, that the increases will come not in 2013 but in October 2014 and again in October 2015. The total of the rise will be a mere 50 cents. Listening quickly to a news report on the drive home, a lot of people might miss that detail on timing even though it is right there in the first sentence of the news release.
Anyway, they also announced bigger money last week. People in the fishing industry will get $400 million to help with the transition to the new European free trade agreement. Huge announcement. Lots of cabinet ministers at a news conference. It made all the major news casts.
A few big details may have slipped by people in all the hype.
Details like the fact that the money won’t come until they finish the actual trade deal. That could be a few years away. The trade deal announcement two weeks ago was actually about a framework agreement. It wasn’t the final deal. Getting the final deal will take time. How much time we don’t know and we won’t know until it is finished.
That sounds vague and it is. Complex international agreements take time to sort out. Remember: it took the Europeans and the Canadians about four years just to get this framework deal.
The Happy Face Offensive
Look at the announcement for the week.
Right at the start of the week there’s an announcement that they are opening the House of Assembly about two weeks earlier than usual. The reason, revealed by the Premier toward the end of the week, was so they could pass a quick piece of legislation to get the contract signing bonus into people’s hands as soon as possible. The House will open on the first Monday in November, sit for a couple of days and then recess for a couple of weeks.
The result is that news of the money gets out while the pollster is in the field. That’s the most important thing. Money should get to people before Christmas, which is important but not half as valuable as the news the money is coming.
There are a pile of warnings to news media of upcoming news conferences and such. Then on Wednesday - the busiest day of any week – there’s the string of cash:
- $1.6 million for a lumber mill
- $9.4 million to continue work on Team Gushue Highway
- $25,000 for the restaurant association
- $50,000 for local businesses
Thursday there was a quarter of a million in public works money for St. Barbe.
Then on Friday, a string of happy news:
- Government Purchasing Review Surpasses Goal with $20 Million in Savings Annually (money)
- Public Advisory: Newfoundland Standard Time Returns this Weekend
- Water and Sewer Services to be Enhanced in Trinity - Bay de Verde (money)
- Broadband Service Extended to Fleur de Lys (money)
- Underwater Camera Tested with Assistance from the Provincial Government (money)
- Recreation Grant Supports Upgrades to Burlington’s Playground Area (money)
- Town of Victoria Receives Funding for Skateboard Park(money)
- Environmental Assessment Bulletin Media Advisory: Minister to Speak at “Rock Solid Procurement” Conference 2013
- Media Advisory: Minister to Launch Play and Learn Week
- Media Advisory: Parliamentary Secretary to Attend Presentation Ceremony
- Media Advisory: Premier to Announce Funding for Recreation Facility (money)
- Increases to Minimum Wage Benefit Residents While Providing Certainty for Employers (money)
- New Fire Equipment to Benefit Conception Bay North Region (money)
Thirteen news releases and media advisories.
Eight of them involve government handing out money.
Expect more of it in the couple of weeks ahead.