Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taken For A Ride

Given recent events, "abuse of power" accusations, along comes an obscene expenditure, which could well bring critical mass in terms of outrage. Or, the ridiculous waste of taxpayer money for partisan purposes will make no blip with the electorate, and Harper will once again FLIP the bird at the notion of good government, laughing as the poll numbers rise. I'm feeling hopeful for a moment, so let's go with the former, because really this is bullshit so pungent my nose hairs are burning:
Taxpayers are shelling out $26 million over three months for all those Economic Action Plan ads the Harper government is airing on TV and radio.

A marketing specialist says the outlay is more cash than a big advertiser like Procter and Gamble would spend in a year in Canada.

Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York University's Schulich School of Business, called the dollars involved "huge."

"A major advertiser like Procter and Gamble wouldn't spend that within a year in Canada, it's that big," he said.

Annualized to about $100 million for a full year, "not even McDonald's and Tim Hortons spend anywhere near that."

Corporate giant Bell Canada spent $89.5 million on measured media in 2009, according to Marketing Magazine.

You knew it was a big number, and I've been openly wondering if anyone was digging to get the figures. Thankfully, CP has done just that, because really the figures border on criminal- maybe not in a strictly legal sense, but by any moral measure. Critics have already noted this government has taken self promotion to new levels, "bordering" on partisan ads. The nature of the ads, coupled with ludicrous spending (for comparison the dirty Martin Liberals spent 41.3 million on advertising in a full year) have congealed to paint a Conservative government misusing the levers of power in unprecedented fashion. There is simply no point of reference, what the Conservatives are doing is a new abuse of power.

Everyone pointed to the attack ads as probably prime poll mover. Now we have evidence of a 5-10 times expenditure on government ads, which are really just watered down partisan presentations. The amount of taxpayer paid ads DWARF the Conservative Party buys, tallied up together, is it any wonder that opinions have moved, we suddenly see an uptick on "direction of gov't" numbers, improved performance by the government? It's a complete and utter outrage what is going on, the likes of which Canada has NEVER seen. All the more maddening when one weaves this abuse with other transgressions, all actions by a government who supposedly cares about the taxpayer, "your money". They allegedly skirted Elections Canada rules during a campaign, now they seem hell bent to game the pre-writ on MY DIME. Where's the moral compass here? Where's the guy/gal in the PMO that says "whoa, we can't do this?" Nobody, nothing, nada, it would appear we are suckers and our money is simply a vehicle to ensure these people retain power.

I'm hopping mad, because not only are we facing legitimate attacks, but our money is being used by the Conservatives in SHADY fashion. There is no rationalizations, no way to square this with past "regimes", this is just total, complete abuse. Now the question becomes, can and will they get away with it?


Tomm said...

The Liberal's should make this a plank in their campaign. It would sway some votes and also be useful if they are unsuccessful to use as a hammer over the CPC heads after the election.

Good point.

Steve V said...

Who would have thought 5 years ago that the Liberals could credibly run on "cleaning up gov't" and not be laughed at hysterically. Andrew Coyne posted the Ontario gov't rules for advertising on da twitter. A good read for sure, something similar clearly needed on federal scene:

Tomm said...

I know. In 2004 & 2006 part of the appeal Harper had was higher ethical standards and cleaning up the mess.

In many ways, the mess is still there, just in different piles. And some would argue the piles are now of even greater diversity.

Tof KW said...

I've already suggested for some time now that the LPC talk to McGuinty & the OntLibs - and make their Ontario government ad legislation a federal policy. Well now that Coyne is on this maybe things will finally happen.

Another reminder, the McGuinty government exacted this legislation due to the Harris/Eves administration's shameless self promotion during their time in power. A number of these ex-Harrisites are sitting in Harper's cabinet, but that's a coincidence I'm sure.

Steve V said...

We have a democratic reform package in the can apparently. This week, with no sitting, would be the perfect time to get that out, capitalize on all this stuff swirling around. KW, I would hope we have something to offer on these ad buys, because it's been going on for quite some time.

Alison said...

I would love to see a private members bill from the Liberals, either banning out-of-writ political ads completely or counting them as election expenditures. I think it would easily pass the House, but probably would be defeated in the Senate. It would still be worthwhile in keeping the issue in front of the public.

There does need to be a major public airing of the amounts being spent on taxpayer funded partisan ads. The opposition needs to make a huge stink about it. Using the Ontario model for ads is a good idea.

I do fear for our country when the electorate are swayed by such blatant excesses and truly vile attack ads. Has anyone noticed the colours being used in the anti-Ignatieff ads? Black, white and red; does that remind you of anything? I'm truly disgusted.

Steve V said...

A bit surprising that no one has introduced anything to date, because this spending issue has been on the radar for years now, the abuse just goes on and on. NDP, Bloc?

A Eliz. said...

I feel like you do, nauseated. Every time I see Harper's face and eyes ..I can see something dreadful. I am not sure what, but I do not know how many more could vote for him..what in hell has he done? I feel that those anti- Liberal ads, should never have been on TV.. before an election, who is paying for them?????
His government acts like the SS

rockfish said...

I heard a new radio ad today -- sorry but the exact words and the name of the group escape me -- about a bill before the House. It says bill C-? will be voted down because Liberal Party wants to take money away from small radio stations... Of course this was heard on Corus NW, no small radio station and one of the giant monopolies out there. This is 3rd party advertising doing the government's biding -- i wonder who's bankrolling this(?). I just wish i caught all the particulars -- i heard it twice but with a car full of kids it was hard to get all the details.

Gayle said...

I thought a liberal senator did have a bill limiting out of writ election expenses. It never got to the House. I remember the story was that the CPC put themselves down as sponsoring the bill in the House so they could prevent it from coming to a vote. Am I imagining things?

Unknown said...

> Where's the guy/gal in the PMO that says "whoa, we can't do this?"

Quickest way to get fired from a PMO job, for sure.

Tof KW said...

Terry Milewski finally reported about the $26 million EAP ad buy last night on The National, and the fact that the program was pretty much over.

Well, at least it's a start that the media have finally begun reporting on it. Though the fact that they are the benefactors of this ad buy will probably prevent them from forcing the issue too much.

Steve V said...

I notice very LITTLE follow up on this story today, which does beg the question about conflict of interest.