Roll up Tim’s? You won’t win

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

Here’s a lit­tle ad­vice for en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tives alike: you don’t tug on Su­per­man’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. And you don’t play the boy­cott game with Tim Hor­tons.

Be­cause all you’re cre­at­ing is the ul­ti­mate tem­pest in a teacup — or in this case, a tem­pest in a pa­per cof­fee cup where you can oc­ca­sion­ally roll up the rim and win some­thing.

Over the last lit­tle while, there’s been a small-time boy­cott battle un­fold­ing around the Tim Hor­tons cof­fee chain.

It started some­thing like this: a cou­ple of en­vi­ron­men­tal groups took um­brage to oil gi­ant En­bridge; more pre­cisely, to Tim Hor­tons run­ning En­bridge ads on their video screens in a va­ri­ety of lo­ca­tions.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists started a boy­cott cam­paign, email­ing the cof­fee gi­ant to make their points. Even­tu­ally, when the cam­paign reached 28,000 emails, the cof­fee com­pany said it was pulling the ads (a small victory, be­cause the ad con­tract was end­ing in a week any­way).

Cue the pro­test­ers protest­ing the protest. A dif­fer­ent group, in­volv­ing fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive cabi­net min­is­ters and or­ga­niz­ers, started a boy­cott of their own, ac­cus­ing Tim Hor­tons of tak­ing a stand against work­ers in the be­lea­guered oil in­dus­try. (I guess they didn’t stop to con­sider the ef­fects of a suc­cess­ful boy­cott on the much-low­er­paid work­ers in the be­lea­guered cof­fee in­dus­try.)

Leave all that aside. I’d sug­gest nei­ther side in the great boy­cott de­bate spends much time in Tim Hor­tons any­way. Be­cause if they did, they’d re­al­ize that they are tilt­ing at wind­mills much, much larger than them­selves.

The Con­ser­va­tive party is fond of tilt­ing to­wards its base, a non-co­he­sive, non-for­mally-ac­tive but like-minded group of vot­ers who can be counted on to back fam­ily ini­tia­tives and law and or­der.

You might even call it a dou- ble-dou­ble con­stituency — iron­i­cally, it’s just the way Tim Hor­tons seem to be de­scrib­ing its cus­tomers in its own ad­ver­tis­ing.

It’s sup­pos­edly hockey moms, small-r right wingers, what might be called the meat and pota­toes crowd — peo­ple like my old fire chief from Wolfville, N.S., a blunt-talk­ing ad­vo­cate for the sta­tus quo and a ra­bid Tim Hor­tons devo­tee. Of­fer him a mocha-chino and he’d ques­tion your life­style and morals.

Ask him to boy­cott Tim’s? Laugh­able.

Now, maybe the com­pany’s de­ci­sion to pull the ads was a bad move. But boy­cotting Tim’s? The en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists don’t live there, and the Con­serva- tives can’t pos­si­bly be­lieve that the base is go­ing to put down its dou­ble-dou­ble na­tion­wide for the sake of the poor old oil busi­ness. That’s like ask­ing for a junk food boy­cott to sup­port the bank­ing in­dus­try, or maybe a Net­flix boy­cott to save the whales — eyes roll. My ad­vice? Back off, boy­cott bud­dies. This is a bad call by ev­ery­one.

There’s noth­ing but pit­falls and dough­nut holes ahead.

Fact is, you’ll dam­age your own cause long be­fore you put even the slight­est dent in cof­fee sales.

Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic Re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc; his col­umn ap­pears on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days in TC Me­dia’s daily pa­pers.

Rus­sell Wanger­sky Eastern Pas­sages

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