As seen on TV

The Harper government has committed another $4 million to advertise itself.

Supplementary estimates released by Ottawa midway through the fiscal year show the Natural Resources Department has been given an additional $4 million to fund an ad campaign called “Responsible Resource Development.”

That’s on top of $5 million the same department already had on the books for the ads, which pitch pipelines, double-hulled oil tankers and pro-development changes to environmental laws as part of the Conservatives’ ubiquitous “economic action plan.” The $9 million in ads by Natural Resources dovetails with $16 million budgeted for the current “economic action plan” blitz by Finance Canada and another $5 million for a job training ad campaign by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

The policy response to this might be something like what the Ontario government established.

Complaints about incumbent parties using publicly funded ads to bolster their re-election chances are, of course, nothing new. But Ontario remains the only Canadian jurisdiction—in fact, one of very few in the world—to seriously tackle the issue. In 2004, Ontario’s auditor general was given power to vet all provincial ads to make sure they don’t amount to pitches for the party in power. Last year, the watchdog’s ad panel (Rose is a member) approved all but two of 165 advertising submissions from provincial ministries.

But those rare rejections are intriguing. The panel wouldn’t allow a set of ads touting the province’s clean-energy policy, finding that their “primary objective was to foster a positive impression” of the governing Liberals. The reviewers also rescinded their approval of ads on reducing medical wait times after they saw that the provincial Liberals had produced a partisan ad “with strikingly similar visuals on the same subject.”




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As seen on TV

  1. Hannah Arendt ~ Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.

  2. Some advertising to let people know about new initiatives is OK, but this is ridiculous. Often we don’t need better rules, we need better people.

  3. There is another aspect to this spending that arises when you consider the case of the fired journalist in Manitoba. Massive government spending on advertising has a dual purpose; the more obvious is an attempt to influence the viewer, but the less obvious is the way that the government’s advertising dollars are being used to strong-arm media outlets that are already highly stressed by financial pressures. James Bezan didn’t just threaten to withdraw CPC ads from a small newspaper, he threatened to withdraw all government ads because he was unhappy with the behaviour of one of it’s writers. A writer who has been subsequently fired.

    When the government is one of the largest buyers in the media market, the government has yet another tool with which to bully and intimidate the media.

    • A strong point and one I had not considered (if I may toot my own horn, I feel the combination is a rarity on internet comment boards).

    • Government gets their hooks into msm in a variety of ways and makes journos lickspittles. Lots of pols at journo awards gala the other day and soon enough Macleans will be announcing its annual awards to terrific pols. Very incestuous relationship that not healthy for Canada.

      “The Canada Periodical Fund (CPF) provides financial assistance to Canadian print magazines, non-daily newspapers and digital periodicals to enable them to overcome market disadvantages and continue to provide Canadian readers with the content they choose to read.”

      • Shouldn’t that read, it has the potential to turn some journos into lickspittles and a lot of owners. It’s the owners who are often the problem, not just the worker bees.

    • http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/11/08/michael-harris-298378/

      This was Harris’ follow up to the original article. The whole article is scary. Here’s the kicker:

      “Meanwhile, one of the owners of Interlake Graphics, which launched three free weeklies in 2010, including the Selkirk Record, told the Winnipeg Free Press about the company task. It was to get onto the radar screen of the provincial and federal governments to ensure they were part of the media buys for governments ad campaigns.
      Jill just didn’t understand what all that white space was for.”

  4. This is the very kind of bullshit Stephen Harper used to complain about when the Liberals held the reins. Why is it Ok now? How is this the new style of accountable government I was promised?

    • Small correction – Why is it WORSE now?

  5. The Ontario Ombudsman was appointed because the harris communications people made every ad an election ad. And now, most of that provincial cabinet is the federal cabinet, and the coms people went with their masters to Ottawa.

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