Monday, April 27, 2015

Democracy Watch Has Jumped the Shark

So, this happened.

Democracy Watch has officially joined the political hysteria over government advertising.

I suspect that someone in the Auditor General's office is going to find their email-writing campaign a little confusing. They describe their letters as "calling on the Auditor General to audit Conservative ads, and on PM Harper to stop them."

That's rather amusing. The Auditor General has no power to investigate Conservative ads, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has no reason to stop them.

Then you read the rest of the page in question and discover that what they're actually complaining about is "the Harper Conservatives’ government advertising that is propaganda for the Conservative Party."


Now, I don't recall Democracy Watch complaining when the Liberal Party was in power and they spent $111 million on ads in a single year... this after the Liberal Party was caught red-handed stealing from one of its government own advertising programs, the sponsorship scandal.

One of the revelations from the Gomery Inquiry was that, aside from the blatantly-stolen monies, the sponsorship program was administered in such a way as to help Liberal Party candidates get elected in Quebec.

The problem was so bad that then-Finance Minister Ralph Goodale -- who learned so little from the sponsorship scandal that he simply refused to investigate the Income Trusts leak -- felt compelled to defend government advertising in this document.

That document contains the following statement:

"The government of Canada has a duty to tell its citizens about its initiatives, decisions and priorities. Government organizations advertise to inform Canadians and non-Canadians about their rights and responsibilities, government policies, programs, services and initiatives, or about dangers and risks to public health, safety or the environment."

The amusing thing is that Goodale wasn't wrong when he wrote this. But that was 2004. He and his party are wrong today when he objects to government advertising for this purpose, simply because it's no longer to their advantage.

With all the benefits the Economic Action Plan -- which is, by the way, a government program -- offers Canadians, it's unsurprising that the Liberal Party would prefer that Canadians not know about it. It undermines their entire "economic program" advertised to date.

So the Liberals are doing what the Liberals have always done: they're attempting to poison the well. It's a little strange that an allegedly pro-democracy group like Democracy Watch is working with them to try to undermine this vital link of information between the government of Canada and the citizens of Canada.

Unless, of course, Democracy Watch is no longer a pro-democracy group, and has simply become a partisan organization.

In other words, they've jumped the shark. As has the Liberal Party.