Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Harper Government Campaign 2011: Partisan use of government resources across the land

As it becomes clear that the corporate tax cut issue is shaping up to be an election issue in a coming campaign, possibly this spring, government resources are being commandeered to support the Conservative position, starting with that far-flung effort we saw across the country today: "Harper Government Is Keeping Taxes Low for Canada's Job Creators." That's the partisan release for Stockwell Day's appearance with Jim Flaherty in Vancouver.

Earlier today, there was the generic release highlighting the day's events, noting all the ministers travelling cross country on our dime to wage the "Harper Government's" campaign: "Harper Government is Keeping Taxes Low for Canada's Job Creators." Here's a 3rd release highlighting Lisa Raitt's participation today. What government department is paying for all this? Finance? The one that is supposed to be setting a certain tone at the moment? More:
The Tories held similar events for ministers and MPs across the country throughout the day:

* Ted Menzies, Flaherty's minister of state for finance, joins Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in Calgary.
* Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in Summerside, P.E.I.
* Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in London, Ont.
* Revenue Minister Keith Ashfield in Dartmouth, N.S.
* Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis in Montreal.
In addition to the corporate tax cuts campaign of today, yesterday we saw another effort start up with this release, "Harper Government's Home Renovation Tax Credit a Success: Saved Average Family over $700; Pumped Billions into the Economy," advising of Laurie Hawn's HRTC campaign event in Edmonton. The Minister of Democratic Reform had an HRTC event yesterday in Winnipeg too with a similar full-on Harper Government release to celebrate the campaign event. Boasting about the HRTC is the gist of this campaign that uses our tax dollars. An event was also carried out in B.C. And in Halifax with Keith Ashfield.

Also, you may be noticing items like these at various web and news sites as you surf the web in recent days...

The top one was featured on YouTube, the second on the Globe site, both yesterday. You'll see the YouTube one still today. That's the web campaign aspect of all this, as election speculation ramps up. These web ads may be costing us in the neighbourhood of $3 million based on past precedents. The latest bout of TV ads, that we're also seeing now, may be costing about $4 million, again, based on the track record.

Just how much is all of this costing us? At this supposed time of fiscal restraint? And putting aside the economics of doing this when we have a massive deficit, financing ministers to be traversing the country like this to wage campaigns on these issues, the partisan tint to it all is inappropriate. They're using our dollars to do this. It would be wrong in and of itself no matter what the state of our budget.

You might call it all the Harper government's very own sponsorship programme, sponsorship of themselves and their political arguments on our dime. It's quite the scene.