With the release of the latest provincial budget, British Columbians are taking a close look at where the BC Liberal government is saying they plan to spend taxpayer’s money.
But there is one line item in the budget that continues to raise the hackles of voters across the province: the on-going spending spree on partisan, pro-Liberal government advertising. The $17 million wasted on these ads could actually be spent on programs and services that make life better for British Columbians. But that is not the choice the BC Liberals are making.
Adrian Dix, leader of the Opposition, is serious about putting a stop to government-funded, partisan ads. In fact, he has already prepared legislation, the Government Advertising Act, which will establish strict guidelines for all government advertising. This legislation was presented in the House on February 18.
If the BC Liberals were willing to allow this legislation to be debated and passed, all government advertising would have to meet certain standards. Government advertising would be restricted to presenting information objectively, in tone and content, with facts expressed clearly and accurately using unbiased and objective language.
Gone would be the feel-good ads promoting the BC Liberal’s Jobs Plan that claim that job numbers in British Columbia are on the increase when in fact jobs have been lost.
Government ads could no longer include the name, voice or image of the Premier or members of Cabinet. Government ads could no longer be partisan in nature. And government ads could no longer be timed to promote the governing party’s political interests ahead of an election.
And it would be the responsibility of the Auditor General to review every government ad to ensure that it meets this standard.
This is the kind of legislation that British Columbians want and need. It is an example of how government should function to ensure that the public good is put ahead of partisan interests.
If you support the implementation of the Government Advertising Act, make sure the Premier is aware of your opinion. Send an email today to firstname.lastname@example.org demanding that this legislation, which is now before the House, be allowed to go forward for debate.