Premier Christy Clark at municipal convention in 2014. Her government's 'jobs plan' message has evolved since 2011

BC VIEWS: Harper-style ads carry on here

'Canada's Strongest Economy' ads tout balanced budget, just like Premier Christy Clark's speeches

By now you’ve probably seen the provincial government ads, on TV or Facebook, with cute children lined up for a footrace at their school track meet.

They are interspersed these days with ads urging people to sign up for trades training, an extension of the “B.C. Jobs Plan” blitz that surrounded Premier Christy Clark before the 2013 election.

Not yet on TV, but waiting in the wings, are exciting new exemptions from B.C.’s property transfer tax (for buyers of new homes only) and expanded Medical Services Plan premium assistance, which will be pitched mainly to seniors. Both measures were announced in the February budget.

That’s public service advertising, explained a stone-faced Andrew Wilkinson, minister responsible for the wave of government ads that will crest next spring. The track meet spot is to remind parents of kids born after 2006 that they can receive a $1,200 grant by setting up their children’s Registered Education Savings Plan at an eligible bank or credit union.

The TV spot for the education grant has a confident narrator speaking as the plucky multicultural kids begin their sprint: “B.C.’s plan to protect Canada’s Strongest Economy is working. Balanced Budget 2016 means we can keep taxes low and invest in B.C. families.”

They used a male narrator, I suppose so it wouldn’t sound too much like a Christy Clark campaign speech broadcast at taxpayer expense.

[See 30-second TV ad below]

This grant program is a leftover from the Gordon Campbell years, when the province banked $1,200 per child from its natural gas windfall on behalf of kids born after 2007. The Clark government expanded eligibility by a year and has made a series of announcements as the money was doled out directly to parents.

The ads are working, Wilkinson assured reporters. Monitoring has shown a “substantial increase” in parents signing up to receive the grant.

Two cheers. With the help of sophisticated marketing, the B.C. government is able to give money away with brisk efficiency, as they did with the rebate to parents in the midst of the last teachers’ strike.

The Trudeau Liberal government has begun to rein in federal government advertising, which grew to new heights with the Stephen Harper government’s “Economic Action Plan,” the model for Clark’s blue-tinted “Jobs Plan” series.

Federal Treasury Board President Scott Brison has started with a ban on taxpayer-funded ads in the three months preceding a scheduled federal election. His “interim” measures also include banning the use of party colour schemes in taxpayer-funded ads, and promoting programs that don’t yet exist.

Wilkinson declared that the B.C. Liberals had not stooped to that level, as the Harper Tories did with a proposed program to retrain unemployed people.

“Our advertisements are fact-based,” he said. “They’re based on existing programs that have been budgeted, and they’re designed to engage British Columbians.”

The Trudeau government has not yet delivered on its election promise to appoint an independent advertising commissioner, to work out of the federal Auditor General’s office. It’s unfortunate that yet another expansion of the bureaucracy is needed to keep politicians’ hands out of the till, but we seem to have reached that point in Canada.

There have been no such reforms proposed for B.C., or as it is currently known, “Canada’s Strongest Economy.” At least we’ve been spared the bill for boasting about “The Best Place On Earth” in recent years.

The B.C. NDP has advocated an Auditor General-run system for keeping partisan politics out of government advertising.

For the second year, the NDP bill to compel that was tabled and ignored by the government.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

Six boat wrecks wash up on Cadboro Bay beaches over the weekend

Dead Boat Society working with Oak Bay, Saanich to clear derelict boats

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read