Sask. union says Crown-owned marketing firm's rejection of planned billboard campaign amounts to 'censorship'
The president of a union representing Saskatchewan service workers says Directwest's refusal to run a marketing campaign critical of the Scott Moe government amounts to "censorship."
Service Employees Union International - West (SEIU-West) president Barbara Cape says she wants answers from the marketing firm — a wholly-owned subsidiary of SaskTel — after the planned campaign was rejected.
Cape says she was told by a company representative that the ad does not meet the criteria as set out in the sensitivity guidelines for the company.
“Without any clear answers about what is divisive, with the thinly veiled allegations around sensitivity guidelines, this is censorship. Without a clear response, that’s what this is,” Cape told CTV News.
Cape says, there is nothing offensive about the billboards which she explains, highlight the concerns of workers who have been on the frontline during the pandemic.
The ads feature the hashtag "#RespectUsProtectUsPayUs" and advertise the union's HEYMOE.CA website which is critical of the Sask. Party government, in particular, its approach to supporting frontline workers.
According to Cape, the ad was approved and is running across the province with two other billboard media companies.
“The thing that really upset me is that what we were putting forward is divisive. It makes no sense to me, but if they’re going to levy that kind of accusation, then surely to God they should be giving us what they find so divisive and why,” Cape said.
In an emailed statement, Directwest Director of Corporate and Government Relations, Michelle Englot said SEIU-West's campaign was refused because it didn't meet the firm's requirements.
"As per Directwest’s advertising guidelines, Directwest will not display any advertising campaign messaging that is divisive in nature," Englot said.
Cape said this is the first time the union has ever had a campaign refused.