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In February of 2013 Dean Beeby of the Canadian Press in an article said, "Canadians may be growing weary – even hostile to – all those Economic Action Plan ads the Harper government has been pumping out for the last four years." He also stated "eight polls the Finance Department commissioned between 2009 and 2012 suggest the TV, radio, print and internet ads are starting to fizzle – and annoy some people."

He further reported that "the most recent survey has respondents calling the material propaganda and a waste of money." The Chronicle Herald newspaper of Halifax did a survey in which it found that 95.5 per cent of the participants felt bored, annoyed or that the grammar of the ad is being abused since the plan inherently means "an intended course of action." Not a resoundingly successful ad campaign under any stretch of the imagination when even a Harper government agency said people are not listening to this ad. So why keep it going? Conservative propaganda?

One of the ads at that time under the banner of Canada's Economic Action Plan was the Harper government's Canada Job Grant program. This ad was run on various media outlets, one of these included being run on pricey TV spots during last year's playoff hockey event, sometimes twice per game. Employment and Social Development spent between 2.5 to 2.6 million dollars to run this ad on Hockey Night in Canada. According to an article in the Globe and Mail the Harper government spent a total of $14.8-million in 2012-13 on the "Action Plan" ad.

The problem with the Canada Job Grant program is that it was never launched and is still on hold today. The provinces never did buy into this program. After receiving numerous complaints, Advertising Standards Canada, ruled the TV commercial was misleading. Liberal Scott Brison stated "To advertise a program that doesn't exist is like flushing tax dollars down the toilet." These were your tax dollars at work.

Taxpayer-funded government ads are supposed to inform citizens about programs and services according to Treasury Board guidelines. In other words programs or services that actually exist, not ones that may or may not exist in the future. Liberal David McGuinty said "Mr. Harper is essentially cheating by using tax dollars to boost his own personal brand and that of the Conservative party." He further said "He (Harper) is using public money to enhance his chance for re-election and he's doing it in a very, very blatant, obvious way."

We now have seen a resurrection of the Canada's Economic Action Plan ads. These ads now tout the benefits of the Harper government's new income-splitting plan for families with children under 18 and changes to the Universal Child Care Benefit. Once again, as before, these programs do not exist so they again violate Treasury Board guidelines. Once again' we are actually being exposed to Harper's Conservative propaganda extolling their prowess at governing. And once again on your dime. Dennis Howlett of the group Canadians for Tax Fairness said "Public funds should not be used to push an agenda that's still a matter of debate in Parliament." He also said referring to this new ad campaign "We know they do this all the time," he added "The danger is that Canadians come to accept this."

The government is currently running three major television campaigns in addition to the radio ads on the family tax cut plan. The following was written by Bruce Cheadle from The Canadian Press "This Harper government has been under scrutiny for years for spending tens of millions of dollars on feel-good economic action plan ads that deliver little usable information but promote the notion of a robust Canadian economy." Government financial officials have refused to disclose the budget for the current "Action Plan" ads. But a Treasury Board document showed a cabinet approved budget of $16-million for this new ad series in the first quarter of this year alone. Due to this Harper government's continued secrecy it is very difficult to get the true total of tax dollars spent on any program let alone their "Action Plan." But according to the Globe and Mail the Conservative government has spent more than $100-million on the Economic Action Plan ads since 2009.

Would you consider this continued waste of tax dollars by this Harper Conservative to show good fiscal management? Does it show good management of the economy? Or does it show a huge lack of judgement on the part of our present PM and his staff? Enough is enough of all the rhetoric from this Harper Conservative government.

One definition of insanity is - "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Albert Einstein

Richard Hutchison
Georgian Bluffs



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