Monday, November 5, 2012

Time to reform government advertising

We're presently bombarded with slick advertising from two senior levels of government. As well, industry is celebrating tar sands as great for the environment and, of course, producers tell us that natural gas is a resource so marvellous it should be exported to China so that future generations of Canadians don't waste it on home heating and fuel for cars, trucks and ferries.

BC Liberals committed at least 15 million taxpayer dollars to advertise their jobs plan, a program that talks about job creation but does not expand skills training and targeted education.

The gas industry and the Liberals don't explain that British Columbians will pay billions for transport and industrial infrastructure. The crushing on-going subsidy will be for electricity needed for gas liquefaction. BC Hydro will pay for massive transmission lines and provide below-cost electricity to giant energy companies and make up the losses by charging higher rates to home owners  Get ready Grandma, your Hydro bill is going up, up, up.

Obviously, government advertising is an egregious waste of tax dollars designed by and for people hoping to gain partisan advantages. BC Liberals have to pick the public pockets because their corporate friends are closing head office cheque books and contributing to the dying party from petty cash.

Government advertising campaigns and information programs, even seemingly defensible ones, are problematic. The lines between partisan and non-partisan are hard to draw, particularly when people drawing the lines are thoroughly biased and, as in the case of Clark Liberals, desperate.

Political advertising is even worse than it seems. Given the present system, governments can use economic power to reward or punish for editorial content. Both the payors and the recipients claim this never happens but it can and it does. Small market entities are particularly vulnerable to this financial hammer.

A better policy would assign a non-political agency to monitor distribution of information to the public. This could be done by expanding the duties of The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. OIPC is independent from government and presently oversees and enforces British Columbia's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Personal Information Protection Act.

If partisan government advertising was largely eliminated, a small portion of the savings could fund additional MLA staff to improve each member's communications directly with his or her constituents. Expanding the meaningful roles of MLA's would be a win for democracy.

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1 comment:

  1. The money the lieberals are spending could be better put to use. Pay off some of the debt they have created. This is appalling. Expect more to come though with only 6 months to go. Bombarding us hasn't even started yet. It'll be time to turn off the tv and radio as May draws closer and closer.
    Wasteful Christy and Co., totally wasteful and unacceptable.



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