New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix has accused the Liberal government of wasting taxpayer dollars on advertising for its B.C. Jobs Plan campaign.
Dix claimed the province has spent $15 million in contingency funds on the advertising campaign, which he described as misleading and politically partisan.
The NDP leader announced his party has launched an online petition calling on the province to “end taxpayer-funded campaign ads”.
“Fifteen million dollars could have paid for a lot of things and the government decided the contingency fund should be used to try and save the Liberal party’s political fortunes,” Dix told reporters during a news conference in Vancouver today (January 14).
“That’s a government that doesn’t deserve, in my view, reelection, but that’s a choice that will be up to the people. But I think it’s time that the people said the ads should stop.”
Liberal cabinet minister Mary Polak dismissed Dix’s criticism that the advertising is partisan. Polak insisted it enables the province to communicate with the public about important economic issues.
“The ads simply tell the story of where British Columbia has arrived at being a leader in economies around the world. And that’s not something, last time I checked, that was unique to a B.C. Liberal position,” the transportation minister told the Straight by phone today.
“That’s something that we all embrace. That’s something that I would anticipate that Adrian Dix would want to embrace. Certainly we’re not talking about any kind of positioning on a policy matter that is unique to the B.C. Liberal Party.”
Polak also dismissed criticism about using contingency funds to pay for the advertising, saying “there’s no magic to the fact that it comes from contingencies. It’s a very common practice in terms of how you manage a budget in all sorts of different departments.”
Premier Christy Clark launched the B.C. Jobs Plan in September 2011. It is billed as a strategy to boost the provincial economy by creating more employment and investment. A new batch of related television and radio commercials is set to run until the end of March.
Dix also challenged claims about the B.C. government’s record on job creation, deficit reduction, and other areas.
“The ads say that they have a strong record on skills training when we have a 37-percent completion rate in our apprenticeship programs and they cut the budget for postsecondary education in the spring. So the ads are misleading and partisan,” he said.
Polak maintained the advertising accurately portrays B.C.'s economic accomplishments compared with other jurisdictions.
Dix said such advertising spending would not take place under an NDP government, but he would not reveal what specific measures his party would put in place.