The Halifax Harbour Bridge(HHB) Commission launched an ad campaign in mid-may to educate and encourage drivers to slow down and pay attention to the road on Harbour Bridges. The commission paid for a 50,000 ad campaign which was built around a fictional character, named Bridget :"Bridget" warmed drivers to take it slow, and various other cheeky comments. The woman the ad campaign portrays is hardly a role model for women. Bridget is using sex to sell the HHB's request of driving safely. Coupled with the fact that these ads were launched in May: which is sexual assault awareness month is a huge misstep on their part. Also, those cost of the campaign could have funded the legal advocate position at the Avalon Centre for another year. Instead, this non-profit group which helps women by advocating and educating about sexual violence, sexism is struggling to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Where at the same time, HHB's "Bridget" campaign is working like a strong undercurrent against Avalon Centre's advocacy. It deeply concerns me that even though all the awareness and advocacy we are privy to, violence and prejudice against women and other minority groups are still quite prevalent. When there is any campaign that sexualizes a woman to help sell an idea, we are doing a dishonour to everyone. Since the launch of the ad campaign there have been considerable opposition to how the fictional character is being present. There are many great examples of strong, successful, powerful women--many great local examples and there has never been a need to de-grade these women. Their merit is based on professional experience, education and their commitment to community: examples are Alexa McDonough, Megan Lesile, Jackie Barkhouse, Jennifer Watts to name a few.
Equally concerning is the fact that the only municipal or provincial elected official that has made any comment is Councillor Jackie Barkhouse. In a time, where at various levels of government, we as citizens are fighting hard to maintain basic equal rights. It begs the question, where are our elected officials? What is their level of engagement in the community? When an issue is a being discussed at citizens workplaces, homes and in cafes...we need elected members to have the courage to speak out for what is right and just. Out of twenty-three people on regional council, only one made an effort to comment on this serious issue.
It is clear that the public does not like this ad campaign by HHB, and while elected office can not veto their ad; they do have the power to voice citizens concerns. It troubles me that so many of our elected members turn a blind eye to the pulse of the city. Government members need to do a better job of 'putting their ear to the ground'. Our voice in HRM is strong, and passionate: we have ideas to move our city forward. That resource is one that needs to be accessed and as councillor for Dartmouth Centre, I would ensure that every voice is heard. Regardless of where you fit into our community, you will be heard with me as your councillor.
To the HHB: Citizens of HRM have spoken loudly and clearly: Bridget must go, the current format is unflattering to women. It is sexist, and is helping to reinforce stereotypes in reference to women. These ads must be removed immediately.
See the Herald Article Here: http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/metro/103809-bridget-campaign-under-review