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

 

Just Posted

Police officer recounts wild car chase through downtown Ladysmith and Duncan

B.C. Supreme Court trial of Armaan Singh Chandi hears of pursuit following Nanaimo drive-by shooting

Ladysmith a stride closer to fitness trail

Work could get underway on initial groundwork this spring

Small external fire extinguished quickly at Catalyst’s Crofton pulp mill

Fire department called Monday afternoon as part of protocol, but services not needed

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Former junior Cowichan Piggy Doug Fraser joins professional ranks

Fraser grew up in Ladysmith and played junior and senior rugby with Cowichan

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Prolific offender arrested in “dynamic takedown” in Crofton

A 30-year-old Vancouver-area man faces at least six charges after what police… Continue reading

Snowed-in Austrian nuns insist they’re staying put

Authorities have deployed heavy equipment to clear snow and fallen trees blocking the road to the monastery

Chiasson nets shootout winner as Oilers edge Canucks 3-2

Edmonton moves one point ahead of Vancouver

B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Most Read