News from the ‘Working Families’ of Vaughan.

Vaughan might want to be known as the city above Toronto but it seems to have also earned attention as a city of some unusual politics. Most recently, it has become the home of “Vaughan Working Families.” This is the fictitious group running attack ads against the teachers’ unions in the current labor dispute. I have always thought of this area of Ontario as where Toronto Mafia have their summer homes.

Of course, you do not expect Ontario’s major newspapers to refuse to follow industry guidelines or to not be prepared to tell other media who is sponsoring those advertisements. You certainly expect some honesty and standards from the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail. Or maybe, money today buys silence.

But there are better ways than having a lawyer book your ads. I had once been called into a mayoralty campaign in south-western Ontario. It was an awkward situation. The nominators of the opponent for the mayor were the publisher of the local newspaper and the owner of the radio station. They were quite happy to take my friend’s advertising too, provided he met their unusual rules of delivering his material two days before the material was to be run.

There was no point in getting into a lawsuit with these guys, so after studying what was needed, I told my friend’s staff that we could run weekly full-page ads in the newspaper under national advertising rules. That meant the newspaper would get full page mats several hours before press time that would simply be put into the production run. We even paid for page three positioning to keep it simple for them. I ordered the ads through a Toronto advertising agency that was also doing the advertising for a mayoralty candidate in Toronto. They not only won with my mayor but were paid the national advertising commission. To add a little frosting to it, my ads won a national newspaper campaign series award.

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