Posted by: hepowers | November 13, 2009

Licence Plates and Yellow Ribbons for Troops


New Campaign Announced on Remembrance Day in Toronto

An article in the Vancouver Sun yesterday revealed that a new promotional program by the Ontario government is starting to slide off the rails.

Starting in February 2010 you can purchase Ontario licence plates which have a yellow ribbon to signify your support for Canadian troops.  The program is being criticized as misleading to purchasers if they think they are financially supporting our troops.  “It’s very offensive. They’re exploiting the goodwill of people who care about the military,” said Bob Runciman, Progressive Conservative critic. “People think they’re making a contribution to this cause, but what they’re doing is fattening the government coffers.”

But government officials say this program was meant as an awareness building initiative, not a fund-raiser.  “Unfortunately, this story has taken a political angle and is being twisted into something else,” says Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar.

The amount donated to the Armed Forces from the plates will range from $2.25 for regular plates to $4.50 for vanity plates.  The article states that this is a similar donation amount for other charity licence plates and it was agreed to by the Forces in 2007 when the idea first began.

From my public relations perspective, I’m curious as to how badly off course the criticism will take this promotional campaign.  And in terms of corporate social responsibility, does this initiative qualify?  I believe it does.  It aims to improve the Armed Forces community with personal and organizational support, and encouragement.  It is a voluntary opportunity provided by the government for each vehicle owner to show recognition and respect.

Maybe the government’s news release could have been more specific as to what they meant by ‘support’.  Maybe clarity would not have helped.  Unfortunately, as is typical in politics, the opposition party is more focused on diminishing government ideas than to identify the possible good.



  1. The yellow ribbon licence plate initiative does sound well intentioned. Good observation about the opposition party – it is too bad they were so quick to pounce on this and tear it apart! We pay them for that?! Oh my, I thought there were more important things on their agenda.

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