Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Politicians should not decide if ads are political

  • Print

Chances are, you've seen them. Chances are, you're probably sick of them -- and plenty of people are saying exactly the same thing.

In 2009-10, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government spent $53.2 million advertising its Economic Action Plan using feel-good, upbeat, ethnically diverse ads.

In 2010-11, it was $23 million. In 2011-12, it was $21 million.

And this year, even after $97 million spent in three years to have the government tell us what a good job it's doing, the spending goes on.

"An April 2012 poll on the Economic Action Plan ads found respondents calling them 'propaganda' and a 'waste of money,' with only six individuals among the 1,000 surveyed saying they went to the actionplan.gc.ca website for more information," Maclean's magazine reported last week.

The Ottawa Citizen was even more blunt, citing polling done by Forum Research: "Respondents to the poll most often characterized the campaign as political advertising for the Conservative party (30 per cent), while 24 per cent called them 'a waste of taxpayers' money' and 12 per cent denounced them as 'more commercial junk.' "

Even the federal government knows how badly the ads are thought of: After all, it's spent $300,000 more on eight studies surveying people's responses to the ads. And at no time was that more clear than when the spots aired during this year's Oscar broadcast and became the target of a Twitterstorm of abuse.

So why keep flogging a dead horse? Because it works. Other voter surveys show the Tories get a five per cent bump in approval ratings for their economic performance from people who remember seeing the blue-and-green-themed ads.

But if positive political polling numbers are the main reason for continuing with an irritating and expensive campaign, why is it that taxpayers are picking up the tab? If it's all about the political campaign, why not let the political campaign pay for it? Why should taxpayers who might not support the political ends of the government be forced to contribute to its ongoing efforts to pat itself on the back?

Here's a thought. In Ontario, an officer with the province's auditor general monitors government advertising to ensure it's fact-based, informative and non-partisan. Ads that don't measure up to that standard don't run.

Since the federal government is spending public dollars on the action plan ads, it's only fair the advertising not be skewed to serve the political ends of one particular political party.

There is a legitimate reason to make taxpayers aware of government services and programs.

But the advertising should focus on the services and programs.

When it crosses the line into politics, someone else should pay.

And, let's face it, the best people to choose whether the message is too political are not the politicians themselves.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2013 A15

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kevin Cheveldayoff announces Maurice contract extension

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(  Standup photo)-    A butterfly looks for nector on a lily Tuesday afternoon in Wolseley-JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- June 22, 2010

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that the snow is mostly gone, what are your plans?

View Results

Ads by Google