Ms. Martha Hall Findlay (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I tried last week to get some answers on government advertising. There were no answers and no numbers, so I will try again. I will ask the President of the Treasury Board, because after all, he is the one responsible for the spending and he should know. How much exactly have Canadian taxpayers paid for the government's partisan, pat-itself-on-the-back advertising so far?Wonder who will be picking up the tab then since we taxpayers are going to be off the hook for the actionplan.gc.ca fantabulous Conservative-supporting ads? More likely, Toews was just denying that the ads are partisan. Uh huh.
Hon. Vic Toews (President of the Treasury Board, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada does not bill the taxpayer for that kind of advertising. The Government of Canada gets out key messages that reach a large number of Canadians on important issues--
Hon. Vic Toews: --and they laugh--such as H1N1, elder abuse, the home renovation tax credit and Canadian Forces recruitment. That is what the role of government is and we will continue to do that.
Ms. Martha Hall Findlay (Willowdale, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am not exactly sure who the President of the Treasury Board thinks actually pays for government spending if it is not the Canadian taxpayers. I am not sure which is worse, the fact that he does not have the numbers, he does not know them or he is trying to hide something. Look at the TV campaign alone. We are talking tens of millions of dollars, forty, sixty, a hundred. Once in government, the Conservatives did away with the rules restricting ad spending and they have gone wild ever since. In 2007-08 they spent double what the previous government spent. I challenge the minister once again to give us a number. How much has the government spent on its advertising--
Hon. Vic Toews (President of the Treasury Board, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let us deal with the issue of H1N1. This is an issue all Canadians need to be familiar with. They need to understand what the risks are, what the problems are, and indeed the steps that the Canadian government is taking in order to address this issue. Members across the way continuously ask the Canadian government what it is doing, and we are telling the Canadian people directly.
And you've got to love the way they're deking to the H1N1 advertising now, as if it's not known that their spending on advertising for that issue is five times less than the partisan self-congratulatory pablum they're ladling out every night on our screens.
Whatever Toews was trying to say, his bafflegab and Baird's this past week mean no public disclosure from the government on exactly how much they're spending on their latest round of ads, particularly the new actionplan ad with its clear Conservative messaging. Clearly, millions upon millions are being spent on these feel-good-about-the-government-ads that are meant to subtly influence time pressed voters late at night as they're catching the news. "We have to stay on track," Canadians are told, night after night, by very-serious-grandpa. Message: we can't have an election to upset the "actionplan."
And people seem surprised that the polls are moving in their direction. It's tough to compete with the millions of taxpayer dollars the Conservatives are helping themselves to in order to pay for this onslaught at a very sensitive political juncture. It's likely no accident that the polling numbers have seen more divergence this past month than in many previous months as this latest round of advertising has skyrocketed in rotation.
It's quite the scene...