This “TicketGate” issue has me irritated, and not just about the excessive use of the suffix for anything remotely scandalous. It all started a couple of weeks ago when it was reported that various members of the Legislative Assembly received free tickets to Jets games – tickets which mere mortals can’t buy without committing a crime. The tickets came from Crown corporations like the Liquor Commission and Manitoba Lotteries, who received them in exchange for advertising with the Jets.
Questions 1: why are Crown Corporations, especially monopolies, advertising? We have no choice about who gets the money for our car insurance, scratch tickets or scotch – why are they spending money to convince us we should drink and gamble more? If we really want it, we don’t need an ad to help us find it. “Oh, now I remember! I wanted to pick up a nice bottle of vodka! Thank goodness for that ad – I’d never have remembered to stop on the way home!”
Question 2: Why are these corporations receiving free tickets anyway? It is my understanding that in the business world, advertising works like this: Company A pays Company B to display their marketing gimmick. End of story. In this case, the MLCC gets tickets AND space in the MTS Centre in exchange for their advertising dollars. Hmm. I guess you don’t need to be a good business person to run a monopoly. A good business person would have simply paid less for their advertising, and skipped the “perks”. But what do I know, I’m just a nurse.
Question 3: What kind of thought process would allow an elected official to think it would look OK to accept a gift of any kind? Are they stupid? Did they think it would never get out, or do they just not care what their constituents think? Seems pretty obvious to me that the positive publicity that goes with giving the tickets to some poor disadvantaged citizen group would far outweigh any possible benefit a gainfully employed public servant could hope to achieve from a hockey game that they could afford to pay for. Even if it never hit the front pages. Today, at least, Mayor Sam sounded genuine. He left the sour grapes at home and announced that the Mayor’s Office would no longer be buying tickets to anything, because the optics weren’t worth it. Good call, Mayor.
Only tangentially related, but Question 4: Isn’t it the tiniest bit incongruous that we are spending tax revenue to convince people to do things that are probably not the healthiest choices when a trip to Urgent Care for xrays (but no cast) takes 5 hours? I wonder if the revenues generated by the advertising-related increase in liquor and lottery sales covers the cost of addictions treatment or the liver transplant program in the province? Our health care system is in crisis, people – can we really justify doing anything that is designed to convince people to do unhealthy things? Do we not have a greater obligation to make it easier for people to make personal choices that will benefit society, and harder to make personally and socially detrimental choices? If we spent more effort keeping ourselves healthy, we wouldn’t need to spend so much fixing the sick. Let me tell you, if my job is ever eliminated in the name of saving health care dollars, we will have some serious words, my MLA and I. And they won’t be over beers at the community club barbecue, either.
OK, I’m done. For now. This week, I do actually feel a little like Rick Mercer. Righteous outrage. It’s actually kinda fun. You should try it. I’m going to stew over a glass of wine now.