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October 27, 2017 8:43 pm

Adding Up the Government Ads

Sunday, October 16, 2016 @ 6:55 AM

by Dermod Travis

Mute them, channel surf, hide them all you want but there’s no escaping them.

The B.C. government is in the midst of saturating television shows and social media in the province with a multi-million dollar back-patting advertising campaign in advance of the 2017 election.

The B.C. Liberal party – who clearly have money to burn – is getting in on the act as well with mood-setting political ads.

Can’t fault them. They did raise the funds one $10,000 cheque at a time.

It can be tough to distinguish between the two ad campaigns, though.

You almost expect the Liberal party’s executive director Laura Miller to burst through the front doors of the legislature to tag government ads with: “We’re the B.C. Liberal party and we approve this message too.”

How far does the symbiotic marketing go? Sometimes the synergy is subtle, sometimes not.

Take the 2013 Speech from the Throne.

The word economy left the lips of Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon 23 times, followed by jobs at 21 – including seven times in one 26-word passage alone – and tomorrow six times.

There was this classic line: “Today, the measure of confidence in British Columbia’s (LNG) strategy is clear.”

Four years later, it’s safe to say truer words were never spoken.

The speech itself was peppered with buzz phrases such as “an essential component of a strong economy,” “what a strong economy delivers” and “to secure a brighter future tomorrow.”

Buzz phrases also crept into news releases: “the right skills for the right job is integral to maintaining a strong economy.”

One of the Liberal party’s key slogans in the election was “Strong economy, Secure tomorrow.” Another was a “debt-free B.C.,” but we don’t need to go there.

It wasn’t always this way.

The approach of former premier Gordon Campbell’s administration and that of Premier Christy Clark is a study in contrasts.

Campbell banned non-essential government advertising in the four months prior to voting day.

The December 2008 B.C. Public Affairs Bureau memorandum to ministries read: “Effective, January 12th, 2009 non-essential advertising will cease until May 13th, 2009.

Non-essential advertising (included) any promotional or informational activity conducted by a provincial ministry, authority or agency that is not required for statutory, emergency, health and safety or the proper functioning of government.”

In the two-week period prior to the writ dropping in April 2009, the government issued nine news releases.

What a difference four years makes.

In 2013, the government squeezed six fact sheets and 43 news releases into that two-week period.

The government announced a $584 million program “to seismically upgrade 45 high-risk schools today, marking a significant milestone in (the) government’s commitment to student safety.”

Clark noted: “Absolutely nothing is more important than keeping our kids safe.”  Except electioneering.

The government only got around to announcing many of the schools – and the plans – this year.

As long as seismic events are aligned with election cycles, everything should be just fine.

New revenue-sharing agreements were announced to “enable two Williams Lake-area First Nations to benefit from the expansion of the Mt. Polley mine.”

And going right down to the wire, on April 13, the government announced that the new l’école des Pionniers (K-12) was “on the drawing board,” with “construction expected to begin in spring 2014 and an anticipated completion date of fall 2015.”

There must have been a lot of drawings to do.

Just this week, the government announced that construction is finally underway. Students are expected to “move into the new school in winter 2018.”

Out of 17 project-specific announcements, 14 were in Liberal held or swing ridings.

Some of the government’s television ads back then were so blatantly partisan that Gerry Nichols – a conservative, independent communications consultant – said they crossed “the line between informational ads and political propaganda.”

CBC deemed the government’s budget ads “advocacy advertisements” and refused to run them during news programs.

The government is well on its way to meeting – or beating – the $16.6 million it spent on advertising leading-up to the 2013 election.

In the 2015/16 fiscal year, spending on advertising more than doubled from nearly $5.7 million the year before to $12.45 million.

At least the public can have confidence that government ads aren’t targeted to specific audiences based on Liberal party polling data.

They can, can’t they?

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.       h


Don’t even notice them anymore……and there’s the downside of too many ads. You become immune.

I have a PVR…..political venues refused….shut the heck up Crispy not saying another political party will do better but enough of this Jimmy puppet

Dermod travis would do well to look up the definition of Integrity in reporting, as I don’t see a single word about how the other political parties did on their run ups to election.

    You would do well by understanding what ” government ad spending leading up to the election ” means . The other parties are not part of this so called liberal government . They aren’t using government ( our own ) Money to influence us to vote for them , our government is .

      Don’t worry too much about critters rhetoric…the grizzlys are a little dopey this time of year, headed into hibernation.

      You would do well to re-read what Grizzly2 wrote. I believe the key word is “did”, as in what previous governments have done to inform the electorate of their “accomplishments”. As for other parties not using our money to influence us to vote for them? Just where do you think some of that money comes from, especially the NDP? Grizzly2 is correct, as in past articles, Mr. Travis certainly shows his political bias.

    He did go back to 2009 but maybe he should have checked 2000 and before. Kind of nice not having to worry about being a have not province for 16 years. We may be headed back there next election if the younger generation that didn’t live through it vote for the dippers. Hate for them to have to go through that but hey it will be lesson learned.

    History doesn’t repeat itself, people repeat history

” One of the Liberal party’s key slogans in the election was “Strong economy, Secure tomorrow.” Another was a “debt-free B.C.,” but we don’t need to go there.”

Why not? Don’t want to compromise the ‘integrity’ of the Green Party you’re the front man for? Especially in regards to where debt levels might end up if we were ever unfortunate enough to elect them as our government? Let alone our ability to ever reduce those debts?

    Shooting the messenger with fake bullets . He’s been on the inside of the so called liberals under Campbell . He knows what the bowels of the neoliberals contain . Front man for the greens ? Look again . That job has been filled by MLA Andrew J. Weaver , Nobel Laureate and BC Green Party leader .

      Who? Never heard of him.

      Who? Never heard of him.
      Imagine my surprise !

Every sitting government has done this.
I don’t agree with it , but it happens.
Ever notice the purse strings also loosen off big time come election time even though for the last 3 1/2 years they claimed there was no money and now there seems to be a bottomless bank account

    That is what happens when you end up with a higher than expected surplus, but don’t worry those will be gone in no time once your dippers arrive in Victoria

Interesting; “One of the Liberal party’s key slogans in the election was “Strong economy, Secure tomorrow.” Another was a “debt-free B.C.,” but we don’t need to go there.”

We need to go there with their “debt free BC” promise. “Virtually every person we have spoken with has had no idea that on top of the $70 billion in liabilities (debt + other liabilities), that the government disclosed a year ago, there is an additional $96.374 billion in contractual obligations. That translates into a total debt of approximately $170 billion and will be significantly more when the 2012/13 financial reports are presented. In the last eleven years under the BC Liberal government the provincial debt has increased by a factor of 5 times, or to a per British Columbia resident amount of about $40,000 each.”

ht tp://commonsensecanadian.ca/bc-liberal-legacy-a-huge-debt-burden/

Promises, promises, promises…

    First of all, no debt is collectable until it is due. And the BC government has not defaulted on any of its debt obligations as they come due, nor is it likely to. So when you say ‘contractual obligations’ one would have to ask how much of this is in the nature of ‘contingent liabilities’? Like, for instance, when you co-sign a loan that you are not going to have to pay unless the other party whose obligation it is to repay defaults.

    The main issue with the increase in the provincial debt is that we never get to see an accurate accounting of the growth in “assets”. Only that of the “liabilities”. Yet that former must be growing at a faster rate than the latter, or the security for future loans would be diminishing. And with it our government’s credit rating. Is it diminishing?

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