Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday March 10, 2009
By BILL TIELEMAN
I can tell you this: We are going to end government feel-good advertising. People don't want to see us use their money for that.
- Gordon Campbell, November 2000
And another newly released document outlines government communications plans to "maximize convention attendance and membership renewals" for the B.C. Liberal Party.
Details of the taxpayer-funded "Best Place On Earth" ad campaign were attached to a document titled "Advertising - Key Messages" that directly references the "NDP" three times and complains about the media not communicating government messages.
"It may come as a surprise, but we cannot always rely on the press to communicate factual information," it says.
Another document titled "Communications Structure" and marked "Confidential Advice to Cabinet" includes a chart showing a circle with arrows between the words: "Government - Caucus - Media - Public - Party".
The undated briefing document is ostensibly about the "New Relationship" government initiative with First Nations that began in 2005.
But it also includes a line reading: "Party to develop summer program aimed at using ministers, political staff to maximize convention attendance and membership renewals" and a page titled "Defining the Opposition" with explicit attacks on the NDP.
The 2004-05 advertising - which went $7.5 million over budget - included a $3.1-million "Best Place to Work" ad buy and "creative and production services" costs of $737,811 paid to TBWA agency to develop television and other ads.
A "Best Place On Earth" tourism campaign included an ad buy of $3.4 million, "creative and production services" costs of $939,149 paid to Cossette Communications and $47,931 to Cheadle Photography.
NDP MLA Leonard Krog - who obtained the documents through a B.C. Supreme Court order - said the blatantly partisan approach is an "arrogant" expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
"These documents show the government spent millions and millions of dollars on spin doctoring in an effort to mislead the public with their own money," Krog said in an interview. "They speak to hiding partisan B.C. Liberal advertising in a government budget, to get the Liberal Party message out at taxpayer expense."
The full documents are online at: