New Democrats would end public spending on partisan ads

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VICTORIA—New Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday that would end the use of public dollars to fund thinly veiled partisan political advertising by the provincial government.

“Everyone remembers the jobs plan ads that cost taxpayers $16.6 million before our last provincial election, and weren’t even accurate,” said Gary Holman, New Democrat spokesperson for democratic reform. “Today, you only need to turn on a TV or go online to see that already, one year before the election, we are getting more of the same types of political ads from the Christy Clark government.”

Holman says that British Columbians are tired of seeing millions of their dollars spent promoting the government’s political party while that same government is cutting services across the province, saying there isn’t enough money.

“That money could be spent keeping schools from closing, or bringing back affordable bus passes for people with disabilities, or making ferry fares more affordable,” said Holman. “Instead, the Christy Clark government is using your dollars to promote themselves.”

Holman’s legislation would ensure that the provincial government could not use public dollars to promote their own political interests.

If passed, the bill would ensure that the Auditor General reviews all government advertising against clear criteria designed to protect the public interest. It would also ban all non-essential government advertising in the four months prior to the fixed election date.

This is the second time the Government Advertising Act has been introduced.

“I hope that this time, the Christy Clark government will join us in supporting this bill. As long as the premier doesn’t block this legislation, we can ensure that now and in the future tax dollars are used to make life better for all British Columbians, not to promote partisan interests.”