Scare campaigns – there’s a bear out there!

There is nothing quite like scare campaigns – from the mild suggestion of unintended consequences to claims that we’ll all be ‘rooned’.

Politicians have used them for years ranging from the Yellow Peril to the Red Menace and from drugs to s.x rock and roll. More recently it has been the demonising of the few refugees, in comparison for instance to those trying to cross the Mediterranean, coming to Australia by boat. The Red Menace, on the other hand, was probably dead by the time Malcolm Fraser warned that if a Labor Government was elected people should hide their money under their beds and Bob Hawke replied that it was no good putting any money under the beds because that’s where the Reds were!

Business and industry groups are almost as good as the pollies. After all who else but an investment banker could argue, as profits in the company fall, that bonuses need to be increased because otherwise they would lose the talent that made the profit fall possible? And who can forget how the mining tax was going to force Andrew Forrest, Gina Rinehart, BHP Billiton and Rio to all up sticks and leave Australia for Mongolia and Africa?

But the best industry association scare campaign the blog has seen for years has come from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, and door knob manufacturers, in opposition to the Vancouver local council decision to ban door knobs and replace them with lever systems in all new buildings to make buildings more accessible to the elderly and the disabled (See The Economist 19/4/2014). According to The Economist this follows nation-wide moves to change things like entry door size and lever-operated taps in larger buildings.

But the CHBA has an answer to the Vancouver move – it would it easier for bears to get in to houses on the grounds that bears can open car doors and therefore would find it easy to open lever door locks. Now in some places in Canada the possibility of a bear coming in to the house is a real threat even though in the Canadian Arctic people and shops often leave their doors unlocked so that pedestrians who come across a bear can more easily dart into the nearest building. Indeed, on a visit to Churchill Manitoba the blog inadvertently entered a shop thinking it was open late for business only to discover it was always open in case of Polar bears, of which there are almost as many in the area as there are humans. Not that the likelihood of getting there before the bears, who are remarkably fast, is that high.

In New Orleans the blog heard another great scare campaign – against swimming pools – based on the risk that you just might find an alligator there when you took your morning dip. But the blog thinks the bears have it. The PR person for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association should take a bow. Probably also for the line the CHBA spokesman used: “What are they smoking out there?” which did rather encapsulate general Canadian views of the folk out in Vancouver.