25 April 2006

No such thing as bad publicity

A couple of weeks back Canada's new Conservative government demonstrated both its lack of respect for the Charter of Rights -- the one that guarantees free speech -- and its poor understanding of public relations by ordering a science fiction novelist not to attend his own book launch.

Guess what happened? Sales of the book, Hotter than Hell, by government climatologist Mark Tushingham, shot up and
forced DreamCatcher Publishing of Saint John, N.B., to order a second printing of the book. "Things have just gone crazy," publisher Elizabeth Margaris told CBC News."I guess you could say they're hotter than hell." (CBC News, April 24)
Surprise. (Not.) Let's hope Environment Minister Ron Ambrose, has learned her lesson. After all, the book, which depicts a world gone bad thanks to climate change, "had received little notice and minor sales" until Ambrose imposed the gag order.

Until recently, Ambrose's biggest claim to fame (or infamy) was being voted sexiest member of parliament by the weekly Hill Times a couple of years ago. For a while it looked like the rookie member of cabinet was headed for a place in the history books as possibly the worst environment minister ever. She's gutting climate change programs, vowing to ignore the country's Kyoto commitments, and doing her best to follow the example set by her counterparts south of the 49th. Now she may be remembered for violating one of her employee's basic civic rights.

Sigh. I try to remind myself that her government was elected by 36 percent of the vote. Sure. That helps.

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