NDP blasts Liberals' plan to continue taxpayer-funded ads
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:52PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:07PM PST
The first question period of the last legislative session before the spring election in B.C. amounted to a debate over which party was the more profligate spender in the race for voters' attention.
Opposition NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who earlier in the day named his deputy minister should he become premier, said Wednesday that leaked government documents show the Liberals will spend $16.4 million of taxpayers' money to promote the government's programs and next week's budget.
That's beyond even the NDP's earlier estimation of $15 million.
"The intent of the government is actually to ramp up this campaign ... through the end of March," Dix told the legislature.
"What is its purpose when you think of all the things that government is not supporting right now? The purpose of this campaign, according to the government document, is to help 'decrease the credibility gap of the government."'
Dix repeated the NDP's demand that the government ban partisan advertising, especially in the run-up to the provincial election.
"Apparently, the government doesn't believe the budget will sell itself."
The NDP launched an online petition last month, claiming the ads are a "massive" waste of tax dollars and he promised an NDP government would not run similar ads.
However, Jobs Minister Pat Bell accused Dix of hypocrisy, saying that when the NDP was last in power between 1993 and 2000, the party spent more money in each of those years than the $16.3 million the Liberals are planning to spend, including $28.4 million in the last year leading to the 2001 election.
Dix was principle secretary to then-premier Glen Clark.
"Apparently, what we have with the opposition is a case of: 'Don't do as we did. Do as we say,"' Bell said.
"The opposition needs to acknowledge that they're far more guilty in this than anyone else."
Premier Christy Clark defended the ads, saying they make the NDP uncomfortable because they show the success of the Liberals' job creation plan, which she claims puts B.C. in first place in job creation in Canada.
But Dix retorted the real figures show B.C. is eighth place when it comes to job creation.