Thursday, October 08, 2009

It's Your Money!

Martha Hall Findlay has worked diligently to get the issue of political advertising, paid for by taxpayers, on the radar. She's had some success at this, as the issue is now slowly being raised on political shows and in the press.

About bloody time in my view.

Initially it was thought that the Conservative ad campaign was worth $34 million, but today, MHF came out with new numbers.

Liberal MPs today charged that the Harper government has spent at least $56 million in taxpayer dollars since January to promote themselves, including driving voters to Stephen Harper’s $2 million vanity website – outspending their H1N1 prevention campaign by at least 10:1.

Liberal Public Works Critic Martha Hall Findlay also asserted today that the heavily partisan nature of these ads is in contravention of the various laws and rules intended to prevent such abuses.

“The Conservatives are buying voters with their own money. Not only is that unethical, we believe it’s against the law,” said Ms. Hall Findlay. “This spending spree on taxpayer-paid partisan advertising is unprecedented. The Harper government is running roughshod over all of the rules established to prevent exactly this kind of abuse.”

The Conservatives are pathetically trying to get a 'much ado about nothing' message out there. Sadly, media, who I'm thinking were the first to back Harper when he decried this was happening under a Liberal government, are either talking the Conservative line or are silent.

Have you looked at the numbers? The increase in ad spending under this government is staggering. Not only do the Conservatives sound ridiculous, it would seem that they have some unexpected opposition.

A partisan government advertising campaign paid for by taxpayers raised alarms from the outset among senior public servants who serve Prime Minister Stephen Harper, The Canadian Press has learned.

The Privy Council Office, the non-partisan bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister's Office, has never been comfortable administering the website for the Economic Action Plan -- and informed Harper of its misgivings at the time of last January's federal budget.

Those misgivings were heard, but overruled.


While the story is being denied by both PCO and PMO, the extraordinary claim originates from several sources within the famously discreet Privy Council Office.

The fact the story is being aired at all -- even under the cloak of anonymity -- suggests just how far the Conservatives are stretching the traditional boundaries of partisan behaviour in Canada's professional bureaucracy.

The PMO, etc, deny this, but:

In interviews with past and present government insiders, The Canadian Press was told the Tories are trampling the admittedly grey area between partisanship and policy.

More than one career bureaucrat said they've never seen anything so blatant as the current use of the office for self-promotion.
None would speak on the record, some for fear of reprisals, but many said it is a story that needs to be told.


"You have a political party that is not constrained by what conventionally would be perceived as overtly partisan actions," said one former insider.
"I can tell you every funding program across the government is being politicized," said another public servant.


"They do it for their own needs and they don't do it to help people. Welcome to Stephen Harper's world."

The Privy Council Office doesn't even have a line item accounting for the cost of development of the economic action plan website. The $2-million budget went to Finance, but PCO developed the website with frequent input from the PMO.

"Expecting public servants to manage government communications that has a partisan spin to it is a misuse of public power," Peter Aucoin, a professor emeritus at Dalhousie University, said in an interview.

That's the clincher isn't it? A misuse of power. It's evident everywhere with this government, but somehow, the masses are accepting. Why?

Because we are not getting facts from sources who should be providing them. I don't think the media is bias...except to say that they are bias toward turning a profit in their own name. That's okay, but what is missed in that scenario is their raison d'étre and their integrity.

The larger loss though is for Canadians. Information we deserve is being pushed aside. We are poorer for it and I think the media will find their coffers are literally poorer as a result.

So here we are. We have a government that is abusing power, spending money we don't have on self promotion and no one outside the Liberal party seems to have a problem with this? The 'Accountability' mantle that the Conservatives trotted in on was shot down in the first year and has become considerably worse.

Where is the outrage? Where are all the stories?

It's your money too!

17 comments:

Lizt. said...

After all this, and the Liberals still low in the polls ....I think, because the people like and believe what thy see in those ads.Bring this up and the trolls come start talking about the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal..totally different, and this is now, and a different government, which by now, should know better.
Remember how pure the Harper government would be, after this.....
They have to be the sneakiest one, ever.

wilson said...

Anonymous sources say, again... even though denied by....

So let's guess who the mystery source is,
I guess Kevin Chan, a new Liberal right out of the Harper Government PCO

Ignatieff snags senior PCO
bureaucrat as adviser

'' Liberal employment of Kevin Chan is extremely sensitive for the government because the Privy Council advises Harper on policy, administrative and political matters.

“(Chan) has as much access to information as the prime minister himself,” a senior government official told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.

“If he had fundamental disagreements with the government’s direction, he should have asked to be transferred somewhere else (long ago),” fumed the official...'

Say it ain't so.

Gayle said...

That would be plausible wilson if there were only one source, The report says there were "several".

Tomm said...

KNB,

Your biggest problem is that the stimulus monies need to be advertised. The ads on TV may not be Liberal colors but they just referenced to the Government of Canada.

Further, the rebound in the economy is at least partially based on public confidence. Government advertising helps deliver that.

I see your point, but you and also Martha are purposely skewing it for partisan advantage.

As you can see by the polls, this is not a winner for the Liberals.

Sir Francis said...

...it would seem that [the Cons] have some unexpected opposition.

Well, the opposition should not have been "unexpected". We should actually expect high-level civil servants to resist corruptive politicised coercion. Good for them, whoever those people are.

That would be plausible wilson if there were only one source...

I'm not sure the words "Wilson" and "plausible" can ever co-exist unironically in the same declarative sentence.

Sir Francis said...

...the stimulus monies need to be advertised.

Why is that? Because there are CPC-friendly marketing companies that need the untendered ad contracts?

Loraine Lamontagne said...

What does Tomm mean when he writes: "The ads on TV may not be Liberal colors"?

What are Liberal colors?

Red became the official colour of Canada under a Conservative governement, and the maple leaf the symbol of Canada under a Conservative government. As the Canadian Heritage site states, Red and white were approved as Canada's official colours in the proclamation of her coat of arms in 1921.

Why do Conservatives use their partisan colours rather than the official colours of Canada? The republicans and democrats both use the official colours of the US, don't they?

So Tomm, why should taxpayers pay for colouring the website of the government of Canada and all Canadian government advertising to the blue partisan colours of a political party?

RuralSandi said...

The government needs to let people know - I see that.

But do we have to be entertained like little children, especially during a recession?

Can we, as adults, not be able to handle a simple - During these difficult economic times, The Government of Canada has an economic action plan, and to see what benefits you may get from it please go to our website.......

I think I could handle that. In fact, when the ads come on "so many times", I put on the mute button.

It offends me that they use it for partisan reasons and it offends me that the treat us like little kiddies that need to be entertained. I wonder where the actors came from?

RuralSandi said...

Check out BC'r in Toronto's blog today about Poilievre and "push polling"

The Cons absolutley "disgust" me.

I received (I believe my "27th") ten percenter at the beginning of the week - huge (small newspaper size) with a sketch of the parliament buildings - and it is in Conservative "blue".

I don't know how people like Wilson can keep up this childish support for what is wrong and try to come off like everything is tikkedy-boo - no scuples.

marie said...

I think that when any Liberal politician is interviewed, they need to ask the Media how is it that they are continuing to believe the crap And lies the Reform/Cons are famous for handing out about the Liberals and not come out with some positive news about the liberals even when they know it is true and they still fail to report it? Why is that they don't contact the source of the lies and stick with the facts instead of making up their own story.

It is no wonder that the Media are failing and that the liberals are going down in the polls. Not only are the Refrom /Cons spending our tax dollars to spread propaganda and campaign, they have the media in their back pocket printing their propaganda. What is the public suppose to believe if M Ignatieff and his party will not stand up devend themselves to the media if they are given free reign to not report and continue giving giving them free reign to skirt the truth and give false reports based on shoddy bias reporting instead of facts.

Has anyone ever composed a letter to the newspapers across Canada on their behaviour and addressess where we can email them in mass to tell them how we feel about them?

If they get enough letters, they will have to start paying more attention.

marie said...

I don't know how people like Wilson can keep up this childish support for what is wrong and try to come off like everything is tikkedy-boo - no scuples

Rural Sandy, because they have been brain washed by the Reform/ Cons and verified by a partisan Media. They are living in a world of brain drain and until it personally affects them,they will continue to do so. And they are probably being paid well for every comment they come out with in the blogs in newspapers and blogs.

They do not have any scruples and they probably do not know what the definition of the word means.

FredfromBC said...

Rural Sandy, because they have been brain washed by the Reform/ Cons and verified by a partisan Media. They are living in a world of brain drain and until it personally affects them,they will continue to do so. And they are probably being paid well for every comment they come out with in the blogs in newspapers and blogs.

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Yes, that's right Marie. The Evil Conservative Neo-Con Reformers have used their mind control ray on us, and the news media have all been kidnapped and replaced with Conservative clones. PLUS they pay us for posting here....yeah, yeah, that's it...

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They do not have any scruples and they probably do not know what the definition of the word means.

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Right again. All Conservative supporters (millions of us) are actually twisted sociopaths and dropped out of school so young that we never learned to read and write, either. You're just SO perceptive to pick up on all this, Marie! You must be a Mensa member, right? ;)

marie said...

Fred from BC;Marie! You must be a Mensa member, right? ;)

NOPE!!!

Tomm said...

Loraine said:

"...Red became the official colour of Canada under a Conservative governement, and the maple leaf the symbol of Canada under a Conservative government. As the Canadian Heritage site states, Red and white were approved as Canada's official colours in the proclamation of her coat of arms in 1921."

So Loraine, the Liberal Party of Canada being the Natural Governing Party is solely able to link the color of its symbols with Canada since they are the only national party with that color. All other parties just aren't allowed to play that game.

I think the NDP, Green's and the CPC should all change their party colors to red and white so that we all show solidarity with the national colors of Canada.

Basically your answer is nonsense. The national government can put together a poster with a blue, green, orange, teal or yellow background if it wants. It should not have to answer to the Natural Governing Party when it selects colors for its advertising. Unless of course you would prefeer a one party state.

marie said...

Yes, that's right Marie. The Evil Conservative Neo-Con Reformers have used their mind control ray on us, and the news media have all been kidnapped and replaced with Conservative clones. PLUS they pay us for posting here....yeah, yeah, that's it...

Well Fred, you think your so smart don't you?. Well I am here to tell you that for whatever reason, they have done an excellent job of brain drain on the likes of you and your online buddies. As for paying you guys to post, until anyone of you can prove differently I believe that they do.

You guys are probably sitting at your PC's 24-7 waiting for ther for the papers to come on line and print to the blogs daily. Deny that if you want but it doesn't mean one will believe you. You guys are like parasites feeding off one another. Your extra time is probably visiting your Mp listening to their version of what other parties and there leaders are so you can all hate them together. Hell, you may even be one of their family members.
You guys sound like teenagers with no regards to people or their lives.

As for the media, they are all broke waiting in line for some small favours such as bail out monies.

So Long Fred. Take off some time from your PC to enjoy your thanksgiving dinner.

KNB said...

Tomm, the spending does not need to be advertised. In fact, if there was any integrity left to Conservative concepts, the government would have relied on the 'market forces' who have in fact been advertising the home renovation credit with vigour.

Set that aside though, and believe that gov't should inform. H1N1, yep all for it.

The Action Plan ad though does nothing to inform. It's basically an applause ad to the government. Hardly any of the initiatves mentioned are actually underway, so they are duping the public.

Don't remember if it was you or not, but someone mentioned that it's okay to mention Harper and the party. Wrong, treasury guidelines say no and basically law and order genius Vic Toews saying that the rules are meant to be ignored....not the first time for him or th government and won't be the last.

Here's the thing. If the shoe were on the other foot the Conservatives would be screaming bloody murder. Furthermore, this kind of disregard for rules etc, catch up with you and I have funny feeling that a number of issues, In and Out, Raitt, this, Copenhagen, military and handling of detainees, Mohamud, etc...are all culminating to present a compelling story of how the Conservatives play fast and loose with norms, laws, rules, etc.

The media seem happy to ignore their role in informing the public with any depth at the moment, but I'm thinking there are a few out there that are working on stories and exposes as I type.

FredfromBC said...

Well Fred, you think your so smart don't you?.

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("your"?)

Well, compared to you pretty well everyone here could be considered "smart", Marie. Geniuses, even...;)

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Well I am here to tell you that for whatever reason, they have done an excellent job of brain drain on the likes of you and your online buddies. As for paying you guys to post, until anyone of you can prove differently I believe that they do.

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(blah blah blah blah...)

Have you ever had an original thought in your life, Marie? You just parrot the same crap over and over like a broken record.

I'm sure you have some very important 9/11 conspiracy theories to share with us too, right?