B.C. NDP leader starts online petition against taxpayer-funded campaign ads

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Governments have been using taxpayer money to fund political ads from time immemorial — or at least since the advent of television.

But, in British Columbia, the Liberals have taken it to a whole new level.

Over the past several months, Christy Clark's government has released a series of television commercials touting their 'B.C. Jobs Plan.'

NDP leader Adrian Dix, however, says the campaign is nothing but "partisan Liberal advertising." After watching the most recent ad, it's hard to argue with him:

On Monday, Dix announced an online petition to end taxpayer-funded campaign ads. He says that Clark's 'Jobs' campaign will cost B.C. taxpayers $15 million.

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Political analyst Alex Tsakumis says the ads could have consequences for the Liberals just 4 months before a general election.

"Taxpayers are being fleeced to an unprecedented amount of advertising dollars, that are essentially supporting a false narrative," he told Yahoo! Canada News.

"The ads will be extremely damaging and surely backfire, as they are steeped in overt partisanship. The public outrage is already palpable."

In Ontario, the auditor general has to sign-off on all government ad campaigns to ensure they're non-partisan. Should we have the same law in all provinces? What about federally?

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the federal government spent over $60 million last year for advertising "public service messages" like its Economic Action plan and the War of 1812 anniversary.

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Jordan Bateman of the CTF had an interesting idea suggesting that we force governments to put this disclaimer on all their ads: “This advertisement was paid for by the taxpayers of (whatever jurisdiction).”

"This simple statement would give any politician pause before approving a big advertising buy," Bateman wrote. "It would make taxpayers consciously connect the cost of government ads to their taxes."

Now, that's not a bad idea.