Liberals campaigning on the public’s dime

Government advertising should be suspended in the four months leading up to an election

With an election on the horizon, it should come as no surprise that the province’s airwaves are being filled with announcements of all the great work being done by the B.C. government.

While some may be surprised to learn that its their own tax dollars being used to convince them just how good they have it, anyone who has followed B.C. politics closely is unlikely to be shocked by what takes place during an election campaign. However, just because the public has become immune to the partisan politics disguised as public information that has been perfected by the BC Liberals, it doesn’t make it any more palatable, and it doesn’t diminish the cause for outrage.

A pair of Vancouver lawyers announced a class-action lawsuit against the province last week in an attempt to stop the government’s pre-election advertising that they see as an unfair advantage for the governing Liberal party.

Paul Doroshenko and David Fai said the lawsuit is an attempt to recover the nearly $16 million in government funding that is being spent to promote the BC Liberals. They say the advertisements have crossed the line from public awareness to partisan propaganda, with the primary purpose of the ads being to promote the BC Liberals.

“That money that they’re spending – it’s your money, it’s my money, it’s money that could be spent for a legitimate bona fide reason,” said Doroshenko.

Both NDP leader John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver say the ads cross the line. Horgan says the NDP has put forward legislation that would force any taxpayer-funded ads within four months of an election to be vetted for partisanship by the auditor-general.

But the provincial government is already aware of the auditor-general’s view on the matter, as a 2014 report called on the government to end the practice.

“It is a generally agreed upon principle that government should not use its position of influence or public funds and resources to support an electoral campaign,” according to the report.

In this season of endless campaign promises from parties of all stripes, these ads show there is one promise voters can take to the bank: the Liberals will spare no expense in their attempt to hold onto the reins of power.

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