Just about all political parties in Canada that have held power are guilty of using public money for partisan advertising.
And just about all of them are also guilty of criticizing the practice while in opposition, only to behave differently in power.
The B.C. New Democrats have been as hypocritical as anyone else when it comes to wasting taxpayers' money on advertising, but a recent proposal by the party would bring some long-needed controls to the government propaganda machine and break the cycle of partisan advertising.
Responding to the latest series of self-promoting government ads, NDP Leader Adrian Dix announced a plan to have all government advertising approved by the Auditor General. Ads would have to meet standards set out in a new law the NDP proposes. Advertising whose sole purpose is to say how great the government is would no longer be acceptable.
That's the annoying part of the current B.C. government ad campaign. The government is spending $15 million to essentially say only that they're great economic managers, which is certainly a debatable point.
Government advertising should only be used to inform citizens how to access vital services. We're not sure if the NDP will go that far in restricting government advertising, but it should.
The current government ads contain no detailed or useful information.
One cabinet minister claimed in a TV interview these ads would meet the standards Dix has laid out.
That's a laughable claim. Launched about six months before an election, their sole purpose is to promote the government. They feel more like B.C. Liberal re-election ads than valuable government information.
The NDP also launched a petition campaign calling on the government ads to be pulled. The proposed legislation is a more effective response. The Liberals should steal the idea.
- City Editor Pat Bulmer