Facing off over tourism

Nova Scotia's Minister of Tourism condemned for self-promotion

Facing off over tourism There’s an amusing controversy brewing in Nova Scotia, where Minister of Tourism Percy Paris devised a creative way of promoting the province: by starring in a $1.4-million TV ad. During the one-minute spot, the NDP MLA says, “My Nova Scotia is all about wonderful people, warm welcomes and friendly smiles.”

But since the commercial first aired last week, opposition MLAs have criticized Paris for flagrant self-promotion. “This is about the politician, this is about the NDP,” said Chris d’Entre­mont, the Conservative house leader, in the Chronicle-Herald. “This is not about promoting Nova Scotia tourism.” And Tory MLA Allan MacMaster announced plans to introduce legislation banning politicians from appearing in government ads.

The condemnation ignores the fact that during the commercial, Paris invites Nova Scotians to submit video testimonials about the province for future tourism campaigns. “This is an advertisement encouraging Nova Scotians to be involved in promoting Nova Scotia,” Paris said. Meanwhile, the Cape Breton Post defended the minister, saying he “does a pretty good job narrating the ad, coming across as warm, sincere and enthusiastic”—while the accusation that Paris was seeking political advantage itself “smacks of the Tories trying to attain some ‘political gain’ of their own.”

Noticeably quiet on the issue are ordinary Nova Scotians. But not for long. An audition bus will stop in 14 communities next month to cast 21 stars for commercials that will air starting this spring. The winners will each explain what they love most about Nova Scotia. Surely, political theatre won’t be high on their lists.

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