Alberta Tories launch $425K ad campaign as election looms

Don't let the Alberta government tag fool you.

What we've got here is a pure political piece of work, an ad where the provincial Tories want to get you to vote for them and they use your dough to try and do it.

The government is spending quite the chunk of change on ads these days — $425,000 to be exact — on radio, online and in print.

These are just for the ads referring to the province's recent budget, running until the middle of March and ... What Timing Batman! ... that's a spot on the calendar which could be a mere 11 days from the day the battle for ballots begins in Alberta.

The ad in front of us says what everybody knows. It isn't explaining a government program. It isn't informing you of some matter of urgent importance.

No, it is a propaganda pitch on your dime or 4.25 million dimes, starring a young mountain bike-loving guy who must not sound in any way British, a 30-something wholesome and approachable mom who has a taste for candy apple red cake mixers and a 50-something couple who are gritty, apparently, says the script, like folks who own farms.

In this ad, life is good, real good, like the best of all possible Christmases.

The mountain-bike loving guy gets his mountain bike, full suspension and all.

The mom will have that candy apple red cake mixer she craves and the gritty couple will likely go on a vacation, presumably far away from the farm they supposedly sound like they own.

And who is responsible for all this sweetness and light coming upon these three who are, of course, mere stand-ins for all of us fortunate souls. The Redford Tories, no else.

Why is that?

Because the Redford Tories have not taken any more money from us in taxes this spring than they already scoop.

Such kindness! How merciful! Stupendously good show. Put your X in the proper box.

Other provinces have rules about this sort of thing, you know, the government running ads blowing its own horn with taxpayer cash just before an election.

Then again, in other provinces, in 40 years, people change governments and, don't get scared now, sometimes more than once.

In Manitoba, the provincial government has to stop self-congratulation funded from the public purse three months before election day. There's an exception for ads on important matters of public health and safety.

Here, we get ads on important matters of Tory health and safety.

There is nothing in Alberta law governing provincial government ads around election time. Squat.

The Tory government does have its own policy. They won't run ads paid for by taxpayers and patting themselves on the back during the actual election campaign. Mighty sporting of them.

Does that sound too British?

As to the question whether there's a connection between this ad about no new taxes and coverage by this newspaper about tax talk being on the table once the election is over if the Tories win, to say nothing of the Wildrose pledge not to raise taxes.

Absolutely zero connection, says the premier's office. By the way, the premier has recently almost tripled her staff of spin doctors.

Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says there's a reason other places have a law against what the Alberta government is doing.

Hennig adds this particular ad is "bad in general" and "horribly insulting."

"Somehow we should down on our knees thanking the government for not taking more taxes," he says, sounding like he's about ready to gag.

Wildroser Guy Boutilier, a fearless legislature scrapper from Fort Mac, throws down the gloves and accuses the Tories of "running scared" because Albertans are talking about whether taxes will go up after the election, a possible hike in next spring's budget.

Boutilier pushes Deputy Premier Doug Horner to get the Tories to foot the bill for their electioneering.

Horner says the ads are not about shameless self-promotion at all.

The ads are "so we can communicate and have a two-way dialogue with Albertans. That's what they asked us to do."

What Albertans asked?

Does Horner really believe Albertans are banging on the door to get the Tories to use taxpayer dollars to scrounge for votes just before the election campaign begins?

Guess that's life in the bubble.

Calgary Sun, Tues Mar 6, 2012
Byline: Rick Bell

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