Auditor General will review and approve government advertising; partisan ads will not receive approval under new rules
VANCOUVER – To end the practice of governing parties using taxpayer dollars to fund partisan ads, a New Democrat government will assign British Columbia’s Auditor General statutory responsibility to review and approve all government advertising, said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix.
“If elected, a B.C. New Democrat government will require, through legislation, our Auditor General to review and approve government produced advertising - television, radio, print, online, indoor and outdoor. 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.
“For example, the act would disallow ads running in the province from featuring any member of the cabinet including the premier. Their primary purposes cannot include promoting the partisan interests of the governing party; fostering a negative impression of other political parties or groups critical of the government. It would also prohibit non-essential government advertising in the pre-writ period, a commitment that the Liberals never followed through on.
“The HST stickman ads, the current premier’s paid appearances on major networks, and other ads about the B.C. jobs plan that make misleading claims about the rate of job growth and investment in skills training - paid out of contingency funds - would be disqualified under such rules,” explained Dix.
Under this advertising approval process, government ministries would submit advertising for review to the Auditor General’s office. They could also request the Auditor General to review materials in development phase.
“These proposed rules will make B.C. the second province in Canada after Ontario to prohibit government using public tax dollars for partisan advertising through legislation,” noted Bruce Ralston, New Democrat finance critic.
The legislation on these new government advertising rules would be passed in the first legislative session held by a New Democrat government following the May 2013 election. “New Democrats will be tabling the legislation this coming session, commencing in February,” added Ralston.