Slogans for “the people”

I live in a Canadian province where the head of state likes to communicate with the public through the use of slogans and catch phrases. Doug Ford is the Premier of Ontario, and since winning the last provincial election as the leader of the Conservative Party in 2018, he has applied his personal leadership style to governing our Province.

During the election campaign, we heard terms such as “Ford Nation” and government “for the people.” The Ford family owns a company that produces decals, which are well-suited for advertising with punchy graphics and messages written in ten words or fewer. But how can this simplistic approach be applied to government operations in a parliamentary system?

The Conservatives are climate change deniers, and campaigned with the promise to cancel all provincial green energy initiatives. One example was to overturn the carbon tax that had been implemented by the previous Liberal government. Upon hearing that the Federal Government (also Liberals) would impose their own carbon tax on Ontario residents, to replace the cancelled provincial program, the Conservatives responded with a sticker campaign. All gas stations are required to display stickers on their gas pumps that outline the carbon tax costs.

There have been many problems with the stickers – on several levels – but the major problem is that they only tell half of the story. There is no mention of the carbon tax rebates that Ontario residents are receiving from the federal program.

Premier Ford has applied his sticker slogan mentality to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Many bills that the government has tabled in the legislature bear a slogan. For example, rather than just being Bill 115, this piece of legislation was named the “Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act .”

Based on the gas station sticker fiasco, one can’t help but ask “which people?” and who judges what is “fair,” and wonder what is really contained in the fine print.

In response, I have undertaken a personal project to create stickers with the names of all of the acts that were passed in the Ontario Legislature and received royal assent in 2019. On a basic level, I have used this as an opportunity to “brush up” on my brush lettering skills. I calligraphed each title using a brush pen, and then I traced over the lettering with a pencil. The final touches were applied in Photoshop, including the use of gradient maps to produce some catchy colour combinations for each slogan.

On a more substantive level, I feel like I am living in a banana republic, where the government is serving up superficial slogans and platitudes to disguise their hidden agenda.

The following images are my first batch of stickers for the past year. With more time and research, I would be tempted to add a “warning” message at the bottom of each sticker, to identify some of the potential outcomes. This would likely need to be in very fine print to fit it all in.

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