Dear Auditor General and Prime Minister Harper:
The Government of Canada has spent an estimated $750 million on advertising since 2007. Some of the ads have made clearly false claims, others (like the TV ads currently running during NHL playoff hockey games) have been about proposed government programs that don’t exist, and others have essentially been ads for the Conservative Party.
Auditor General Michael Ferguson please undertake two audits. First, please undertake a quick audit of whether the government advertising in fall 2014 and currently about the federal budget’s proposed measures and programs that have not been enacted by Parliament and so don’t exist provides value for money spent.
Secondly, please undertake an in-depth audit of all past government advertising since 2006 that has been very questionable to determine whether the advertising provided value for the money spent, including:
- the ads in 2014 by the Department of Veterans Affairs claiming that the department treats veterans well;
- the ads in 2012 about the Economic Action Plan (after the Plan’s spending was completed);
- the ads in 2013 about the Canada Job Grants program that did not exist;
Prime Minister Harper please stop the current government ads about the federal budget – they are about measures and programs that do not yet exist and so are both misleading and wasteful as these measures and programs may never be implemented. And please come clean about your government’s past advertising – admitting that several times it has been misleading and wasteful and aimed mainly at furthering the interests of the Conservative Party.
In addition, Prime Minister Harper please introduce and enact a bill before the scheduled June break in Parliament to give the Auditor General the power to review, require changes to and/or stop proposed government advertising if it is essentially advertising for the party in power or is misleading or likely will not produce any value for the money spent.
I look forward to hearing back from you both.