Thursday, July 16, 2009

Millions of tax dollars on partisan ads

How much in advertising dollars are the Conservatives hiding? Why isn't the Canadian public entitled to know how much our government is spending on the ad campaigns we see in our newspapers and on our television screens? How is this possible in a modern democracy? All good questions. Also brought to the public's attention today, the blatant manipulation of the government advertising process, which can actually be used to properly inform on important issues, but which has been corrupted by partisan self-promotion by the Conservatives.
The Harper government spent a whopping $86.9 million for the 2006-07 fiscal year – more than double the $41 million the previous Liberal government spent a year earlier. This is despite having a $74.4 million cap on advertising spending put in place by the Liberal government specifically to limit this kind of advertising abuse.

The Conservatives have yet to release actual expenditures for 2007-08 or 2008-09, despite repeated requests from the Liberal Opposition. Treasury Board disclosures show that spending has exceeded $70 million annually in those years. Since the 2009 budget was tabled, the Harper government has requested an additional $44 million through the supplemental estimates for government-wide advertising, with half of these funds geared to promoting the government’s budget.
It's amazing, in contrast, how open the Americans are. Saw a request for comment process in operation there this week. Within two days, comments are posted on a federal website. There's no reason why Canada can't ramp up the online accessibility of government spending.

The demolition of supposed Conservative economic competence continues...