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!