It is just over a month ago that Tim Hortons franchises across the country began running Enbridge ads that support the development of the Northern Gateway Pipeline on their in-store televisions. A couple of weeks later, after receiving a petition signed by 28,000 people, Tim Hortons decided to pull the Enbridge ads. As a result, a boycott of Tim Hortons was organized through various social media by supporters of Enbridge and the oil and gas industry. Those boycotting are demanding an apology and that the ads resume running in the restaurants.
Many politicians have spoken out in favour of the boycott, including federal Defence Minister Jason Kenney, Minister of Western Economic Diversification Michelle Rempel, Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre and Wildrose leader Brian Jean. These are people who claim strong support for small business.
Protesters with signs took time out of their day to picket various outlets in Alberta. Twitter abounded with comments and photos from concerned citizens who decided to curb their caffeine cravings at other establishments. Did any of these people move their business to Tims when they started running the Enbridge ads last month? I thought not.
So who is this boycott really hurting? Here in Invermere, the Tim Hortons franchise is owned by an incredibly hardworking couple. They, like most other local small businesses, continually support the efforts of our service groups and not-for-profits. They employ locals and pay them competitive wages that find their way back into the local economy. They have supported work experience programs at David Thompson Secondary School by opening their doors to our youth and have extended that support, along with a significant number of other local businesses, to include work programs for students with developmental disabilities. In a word, they are a shining example of responsible and supportive corporate citizens.
Rex Murphy opined that “boycotts are the play toys of the activist juveniles.” I agree. Regardless of how important the oil and gas industry is to our national economy or how I feel about Enbridge’s pipeline proposal, our local Tim Hortons owners have earned my respect and my business, and my family will continue to support them. You should as well.