Monday, April 7, 2008

Clogging the regulatory arteries

Introducing a bill "amending the Consumer Protection Act to prohibit commercial television advertising for food or drink that is directed at a child under the age of 13," NDP MPP Rosario Marchese declared that Ontario is facing a "serious problem" with overweight children — so serious, apparently, that to ask just whose problem it is would be comparatively non-serious. It's "everyone's problem," no doubt, or some such other inscrutable banality that automatically overrides any question of concentrating the solution in the hands of a small minority of politicians and bureaucrats.

On the other left hand, however, Marchese responds to the problem that the ban would also apply to advertising that promotes healthy foods "like yogurt and cereal" by saying that "he's confident parents will be able to help their kids make better dietary choices." Well, hell, when did they suddenly acquire that ability? They didn't have it a minute ago when you put the bill forward.

One way to address childhood obesity would be to have public school students lift paper editions of the Statutes and Regulations of Ontario as a regular part of classroom exercise. But surely a more serious approach to the problem would be for all provincial politicians and bureaucrats to take Ontario's children out for extended runs on leashes during their working hours. Good for kids, good for MPPs and civil servants… and anything that will keep the latter out of Queen's Park would be great for everyone else in the province.