Immigration Minister Jason Kenney got into hot water last week for blending partisanship and government.
As the minister of immigration Kenney gave a certificate of appreciation to an Ottawa Chinese restaurant that had been subject to a slur by a Liberal strategist. The certificate had all the provincial coats of arms, the miniter’s title and signature and in the background a giant Conservative Part of Canada logo.
Coming on the heels of a fundraising letter sent out on Kenney’s MP letterhead (that resulted in the staffer responsible quitting) it was proof, opposition MPs said, the Conservatives were using government money to fund partisan activities.
Because that never happens.
In the highly politicized world we live in it is virtually impossible to separate politics and governing.
I used to have a shelf behind my desk in my office in the the Manitoba Legislature with every provincial budget for more than a decade lined up beside each other. Almost all of the budgets from the 1990s were blue. Since 2000 most of them were orange or green or shades in between.
Coincidence that before 2000 the budgets were compiled by a Conservative government and that since it has been NDP?
Pre-2006, federal government backdrops used to almost always be red. (And don’t think for a second that’s really because red is also on the Canadian flag).
Since 2006 they’re usually blue.
It may be subtle but the colours are reminders of who is in power.
It is an unfortunate reality that when you’re in government you are going to have taxpayers money at your disposal that will help promote your party. It may not always be as overt as the putting party logos on big cheques handed out at government funding announcements. Or Kenney’s party-logoed certificate.
Every spring when the provincial NDP in Manitoba get to flood the airwaves and your mailboxes with brochures and commercials promoting the budget, it’s not NDP money footing the bill. Nor will it be Conservative dollars behind the $4 million advertising campaign planned for the upcoming federal budget. Despite both campaigns clearly patting the government on the back for a job well done while cleverly omitting any of the budgets’ negatives. Like deficits, fee hikes and cuts to spending that might upset people.
It would be nice if the politicians in power had the courage to be as non-partisan as possible in government advertising. But that would be akin to waiting for Godot.