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B.C. premier bristles at suggestion flurry of announcements are taxpayer-funded campaign events

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Podiums and the B.C. premier are popping up on a near daily basis – with the government holding a flurry of spending announcements, like Tuesday’s regarding a new kidney care unit in Surrey.

“The government has a much bigger incumbency advantage, in that they can make big, splashy announcements with government money,” noted political scientist Hamish Telford on Tuesday.

David Eby bristled at the suggestion that Monday’s announcement about the purchase of ICBC land for housing or Tuesday’s news conference were essentially campaign events sponsored by taxpayers.

"I will not say to the people of Surrey, 'We could start construction of the renal centre in August, but we're actually going to push it to November so we can announce it after the election,'" said a frustrated Eby.

Then there's the third-party ads, like one online and on TV attacking Conservative leader John Rustad and BC United’s Kevin Falcon. The source of funding for the advertisement isn’t clear and whoever is behind it isn’t required to register at this point.

In fact, such third-party ads are allowed with no spending limits or requirement for those behind them to be identified until the pre-campaign period officially begins on July 23. Then the folks attached to such advertisements need to reveal who they are.

Asked on Monday if those rules are fair, Eby said: "Following the next election, if we're so fortunate as to form government again, there will be a report from the chief electoral officer about how the election went (with) issues that have been identified for reform. It’s possible that third-party (ads) could be one of those issues."

What’s certain, however, is that the government will likely hold many more pressers announcing – or re-announcing – plans in crucial ridings like Surrey in the lead-up to this fall’s election.   

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