Feature Story                                                                                          Saturday, February 2, 2013


Dix Does Decades

Party leader would legislate an end to partisan advertising with an NDP government

Staff/Voice photos


NDP leader Adrian Dix listens to Chilliwack candidate Patti MacAhonic talk about the BC liberals advertising campaign. Below, MLA Gwen O'Mahony lays out examples of how $15M could have been better spent.

C NDP leader Adrian Dix was at Decades in Chilliwack on Monday for a pow wow with current Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony, Chilliwack contender Patti MacAhonic and a handful of party faithful.

The essence of the meeting was to talk about the BC Liberal's partisan ad campaign which has Dix up in arms because he says the Christy Clark Liberals have spent over $15M of taxpayer dollars for an ad campaign that promotes the party.

O'Mahony says her office is busy, and much of the time she fields questions about balancing the budget.


She says that the money spent on partisan ads could well have paid for 10 kidney dialysis units, or 600 playground upgrades for daycare centres.


"It could have also paid for a new Vedder River bridge with plenty of money left over for Rotary Trail upkeep and interpretive programs, because that bridge is only $9M," said O'Mahony. "And of course, there was a major federal announcement for infrastructure upgrades to the Hope Regional Air Park. Well, $15M could have paid for 150 infrastructure upgrades."

O'Mahony also said the rehab centre at CGH need not have closed with that kind of money, and that they could also have boosted the age-friendly grants in Agassiz to reach even more seniors.

"Recently, we had our age-friendly grants in Agassiz, $20K and they all got really excited. $15M? You could have had the same grant go to 27 different BC communities over 27 years."

O'Mahony then introduced party leader Adrian Dix, who she said has a plan to ensure governments in the future won't fritter away taxpayer money on things like partisan ads.

Dix said these are challenging economic times for governments juggling budgets. Despite that, the Liberals have been whittling away at the provincial slush fund with $15M in partisan advertising. This is something he has never seen in 27 years with the NDP.

"Over the last 3 months, British Columbians have witnessed the biggest advertising campaign the government of BC has ever initiated," he said.

According to Dix, the ad campaign indicates BC is first in Canada for job creation, but backed by Statistics Canada figures, the province actually ranks at the back of the pack in eighth position.

There's also ads that say the Liberals are committed to balancing the budget but Dix says that isn't so.

"Unbelievably, we're spending public funds, having the government's commitment to a balanced budget when they missed the budget target by $500M this year."

"These are misleading and partisan ads," said Dix. "To say they commit to balanced budgets when you miss your target is partisan."

He says that when the Liberals slashed funding for skills training, it was a bad move in the face of shortages of skilled workers.

"They say, they're number one in job creation when you're number eight is partisan, but worse than partisan, it's misleading, and to say you believe skills training because you put the premier on TV with public funds to say you are, but you're actually cutting skills training is misleading."

Dix says people are tired of provincial and federal governments who "spend too much money on partisan ads" with public dinero and he wants to change that by following in Ontario's footsteps and introduce legislation during the first session of an NDP government which would effectively end partisan advertising permanently, and also end non-essential ads in the four months prior to an election.

Dix said he can't even enjoy a football game without incessant partisan ads popping up on his TV screen.

"Every ad on TV, radio, print and on the internet would have to be reviewed and approved by the auditor general before it's put out, with an understanding that partisan ads are not allowed," he said adding "they would not be allowed to use taxpayer money to put the premier and cabinet ministers on TV and advertising in British Columbia."

Dix gave another example of frivolous government spending with the Liberal's announcement last week of an $11M subsidy for a Bollywood party at BC Place.

"I guess, again, in this case, it's not a bad thing we're having a show at BC Place Stadium promoting the Bollywood film industry, but these are difficult times when government should be focused on the fundamental; on ensuring high quality health care; on ensuring young people get the skills they need for jobs of the future; for ensuring that our water is safe, and our schools are strong."

Dix closed by saying that the Liberal government is out of touch with the people of BC and he feels that after 11 years of squandering taxpayers dollars, it's time for a new government in BC.

Patti MacAhonic followed up on Dix's comments saying the party aligned with her lifelong values of integrity and that the NDP is in touch with local people.

She equated voting a government in who uses misleading advertising to someone lying on their resume.

"It's like having a resume, and if I'm hiring someone, I need to have truthful and accurate information on the resume," said MacAhonic. "If I'm an employee and I put in an application to an employer, I need to have accurate information on the resume."

See a Friday NDP caucus release below.


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Superbowl Sunday bound to cost B.C. taxpayers, say New Democrats

More about the $15M partisan advertising campaign

Released by Ed May, NDP caucus


VICTORIA – B.C. taxpayers are bound to be on the hook for a series of expensive pre-election ads meant to make the Liberals look good to a wide audience this weekend during the Superbowl, say New Democrats.

"Football fans are likely to be inundated with partisan pre-election ads paid for with their tax dollars during the big game this Sunday," said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston.

"British Columbians deserve better. That's why Adrian Dix is proposing that the Auditor General review and approve all government advertising to ensure that scarce public dollars are not being used to support a governing party's partisan political interests,” said Ralston.

Last week, Dix and Ralston announced that a New Democrat government would bring in legislation to end the use of taxpayer money for partisan advertising. The legislation would require government ministries to submit advertising for review by the Auditor General. Materials must meet certain standards set out in statute, and advertising whose central purpose is to promote the governing party in a partisan manner will not receive sign off.

Ralston questioned whether the Liberals are spending even more than the $15 million they've already admitted to on the campaign, noting that in April the government said two-thirds of that money was supposed to be spent overseas to attract investment.

“Either the Liberal government has blown way over their ad budget, or they never spent a penny overseas,” said Ralston. “The campaign ads have been relentless on radio, television, online and in print across B.C. I think it's time the Liberals gave an honest, updated figure for their reckless ad spending."

Ralston added it’s ironic that the Liberals’ taxpayer-funded, multi-million dollar ad campaign brags about controlled government spending.

Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.