Sunday, September 20, 2009

Telling Contrast

This issue of excessive Conservative government spending, promoting THEMSELVES never seems to get much traction, even though obscene by any measure. The Economic Action Plan ads are so partisan it's embarrassing, and yet the Conservatives seem to suffer no backlash. I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the direct comparison in this article, but if it highlights the misuse of taxpayer money, then it's a useful contrast:
The Conservative government is spending more than five times as many taxpayer dollars on promoting its economic plan as it is on raising public awareness about the flu pandemic.

The TV spots are just the latest $4-million salvo in a $34-million media blitz trumpeting the Conservative's recession-fighting budget.

Meanwhile, with public health officials fretting over an onrushing fall flu season, the spread of the H1N1 virus and widespread public apathy about the need for vaccination, no television ads are in the works to combat swine flu.

Health Canada's home web page, however, does include a prominent link to the Conservative economic action plan website (

What you have is public health on the one hand, personal ambitions on the other. The argument that it's important to instill confidence, as justification for these economic ads, has long since passed, they've become nothing more than transparent campaign ads. Despite the obvious intent, not to mention gross misuse of money when the government is in deficit, it seems the Conservatives don't suffer. I hate to say it, but the prospects of people dying, a government with misplaced priorities, might just sharpen the focus on what has been happening.


Jerry Prager said...

Someday there will be a tipping point, just as there was for Brian Mulroney's reputation, one day it's there, the next day it's gone, and no amount of nostalgic revisionism will ever restore a lost reputation. Probably the best part of it, is that Stephen Harper hates Mulroney, but he will never win a single majority. It's kind of like Mila Mulroney's bewilderment over the public's response to Trudeau after Pierre died, "Brian has such a much nicer voice and was so much better looking than Trudeau" she bemoaned, so why wasn't Brian more loved ? Only in Harper's case, he'll be even less loved than Brian, in fact, he'll be even more actively disliked, not for his politics, but for who is.

Steve V said...

I wonder what Harper's legacy will be, in the sense that he hasn't accomplished much. His entire economic record comes from inheritance. His signature issue "accountability" has been shown to be a complete sham, by any measure you use. Harper will be remembered as a fierce political animal that fought hard to survive, but really I fail to see any greatness.

MississaugaPeter said...

Steve V, the problem is that every government can and does it. And every opposition is upset about it. And the media fails to focus on it because: 1 they have seen it happen many, many times before (at both the federal and provincial levels); and 2. they are the beneficiaries of the advertising buys.

That is the power of being the government. You determine how much and on what money is spent.

When Michael becomes prime minister, he and his ministers will also be able to direct how much taxpayer money is spent advertising specific government programs. And guess what, in the pre-writ season, the opposition Conservatives will also cry foul and the media will also not focus on it.

Jerry Prager/Steve V, at the present time, the hate for Harper is no where near the hate that existed for Mulroney or the hate for Trudeau in some parts of the country.

JimmE said...

Miss. Peter
Yes, & no.
Contrast the ad content & budget of Rae vs. Harris vs. McGuinty. I'd put a nickel on my perception that the ads by the Harris folks were greater in number & came closer to crossing the line into the world of PUBLIC money supporting the Tory Party. Coincidentally (sic) many of those big brains are now working for the present PM.
Steve's post is RO, the content of the so called Action Plan ads does not pass the smell test.

rockfish said...

You also have to consider that the CONs are wasting taxpayers money on at least 3-tiers of pre-election advertising, something that no prior government has done.
There's the abuse of the 10 percenters, which continue today with blatant misrepresentations and lies that centre on not what they are doing, but attacking their rival. Completely funded by taxpayers. Then there are the negative ads against Ignatieff and the opposition, which because of the generous donation deductions, is also funded by taxpayers -- also unprecedented. The Economic Action Plan spots are the most acceptable when compared to past governments, again being paid out of our till. However, the media and to a degree the masses have been innoculated to think that everything's ok, even though every dollar spent today should be wisely tracked.
Its a shame and a sham what the harper CONs are pulling.

Jerry Prager said...

Harper won't have a legacy, except the one he made in the first week in office when he turned into Mulroney and broke every democratic reform promise he ever made.
The hatred for Mulroney was so intense that that when George Bush Sr. tried to make Lyin Brian head of the the UN, the entire country rose up in an uproar and put an end to it. As for Albertans and seperatiste feelings for Trudeau, well, forgive me for not giving a shit what the servants of the petroligarchy think of anything, and as for the opinions of seperatists, well not such much either. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a towering achievement, much more important than the give away of Canadian sovereignty that was Free Trade, and much more important than anything Harper has... well, Harper hasn't done anything.

Jerry Prager said...

And now I'll trip over my fingers some more, proofread, proofread, proofread.

Steve V said...

I hear that Jerry :)

"the problem is that every government can and does it."

But, that doesn't take into account the DEGREE. This government is spending way more money on polling for messenging, advertising, promoting itself. Put that into the argument about fiscal restraint, sound management of taxpayer money, and it's not a "plus" for the Conservatives.

I note, this story has spread like wildfire across the media. It's "sexy", in the Raitt sense ;)

Jerry Prager said...

You're absolutely right, somebody needs to peg the Harrites to the post with an indictment of their behaviours while in power in Ontario, and while in power in Ottawa: they represent the worst traditions of Ontario conservativism
and should be shown up for the hypocritical, nasty right wing Bush League practictioners of voodoo Reagonmics. In pyramid schemes the currency only ever trickles down the veener of the structure.

Tof KW said...

Seriously, this is Harper's Achilles heel. Throwing around taxpayers money to prop themselves up and help their cronies. This is everything the right usually assigns to the Liberals. And believe me, the real conservatives are taking note (the fiscal conservatives, not the folksy-fascist so-cons) and you are starting to see it in the National Post in some of the editorials and responses from readers. It seems they know of things like the high percentage of stimulus money going to CPC ridings in NS, to the asinine $500,000 for a private school soccer field in Collingwood.

If Ignatieff wants to win the next election, even maybe a seat or two in (dare I say) Alberta, this is the issue. However the Liberals will have to pledge to do things different in Ottawa, and a good start would be to promise clear guidelines on the use of government money in advertising and for other government tenders in general. Maybe even add in a couple of Justice Gomery’s major recommendations that Harper conveniently ignored. This is the way to take some blue seats back into the red column in the next vote.

By the way, what Kennedy is doing lately in Question Period …tell him to keep it up.