Legislative Report (12 September 2007)

NDP Abuse Government Advertising

We’ve all seen the ads. There are so many on the TV right now it’s difficult to avoid them. There’s the cheering students gowned in black, throwing their mortarboards into the air. There’s the happy seniors, talking in front of the drug store, the health care workers talking about how Saskatchewan is a great place to raise your kids.

Yes, Saskatchewan is a great place to live. This province offers people a wonderful lifestyle and plenty of opportunities. However, should the NDP be using government money to promote specific programs in the last budget, on the eve of an election? I don’t think so.

These are not announcements containing information. This is a million dollar ad campaign directed at garnering support for measures included in the last NDP budget. This is politics, pure and simple. This is a desperate government, lagging in the polls, using your money in a vain attempt to convince you they deserve another chance. Don’t be fooled.

Governments should not do this. It should not be able to use your money to pat itself on the back in the weeks ahead of a provincial election call. A Saskatchewan Party government would not let this happen. Other jurisdictions have rules to prevent this. Saskatchewan needs these rules as well.

If elected, a Saskatchewan Party government would do two things to prevent these kinds of abuses from occurring again. The first step would be to establish a fixed election date. No more political gamesmanship. No more heightening public cynicism. No more Lorne Calvert saying that he’ll call an election when he’s ready. That’s just disrespectful. It’s the kind of gamesmanship that turns people off politics.

With a fixed election date, it would then be possible to ban government advertising all together in the period leading up to a vote. The Saskatchewan Party believes that ban should go into place 30 days prior to the start of a campaign. There would have to be one caveat: if the ads served a compelling purpose—like informing the public of an outbreak of a contagious disease. Further, a Saskatchewan Party government would introduce legislation prohibiting an increase in ad spending in the four months before the election date. That would prevent the dramatic increase in ridiculous back slapping advertising we are now seeing from the NDP.

Governments wield tremendous power and large budgets. The assumption is the levers of power are operated responsibly, and that money is spent for the good of all of us, not just the furtherance of narrow political interests. When that power and money is being abused, rules need to be set up to prevent these abuses from reoccurring. And that is what the Saskatchewan Party is proposing.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.

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