The official opposition criticizes the latest advertising campaign by Doug Ford’s government, claiming that they are using public money to counteract bad press.
The ads, titled “It’s Happening Here,” can be seen in movie theaters, as well as on television, radio and social media.
“The campaign is designed to instill pride in Team Ontario’s many achievements and confidence in the province’s economy, especially at a time of global economic uncertainty,” a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
In one of the ads, the camera pans across a farm, a bus full of people, a college class, and then a single car driving down a road.
“What if we told you there was a place where everything was happening?” says a voice in the advertisement. “A place where more people than ever go to work. Where the next generation of workers are training for the careers of tomorrow. A place that is building new roads and highways and leading the largest expansion of public transportation in North America.”
After touting the province’s commitment to electric vehicles and its battery plants, the voiceover says: “What if we told you that you already live here?”
The Prime Minister’s Office says the campaign follows all government advertising rules and is a partisan effort to reach residents.
However, the Ontario New Democratic Party disagrees. Leader Marit Stiles told reporters Thursday that the ads were “100 percent, totally partisan.”
“This government is choosing to use public resources to sell a message that convinces people that it is keeping its promises, when in reality it is responding to the fact that people are deeply dissatisfied with the direction they are taking,” he said. “They are trying to use public health care dollars to sell people on the idea that everything is fine in Ontario when it simply isn’t.”
“I think Ontarians are smarter than that and they see it.”
It’s unclear how much the ads actually cost, but the province’s auditor general found in December that the Progressive Conservatives spent about $25 million last year on partisan ads, equal to about three-quarters of their total spending. in advertising.
“Our office concluded that the primary purpose of these advertisements and/or information on their respective websites was to foster a positive impression of the government,” Acting Auditor General Nick Stavropoulos wrote in the report.
Both campaigns were about the health care system and funding for public schools.
What made the ads partisan was discussing provincial campaign promises, such as building 3,000 more hospital beds or hiring 3,000 more school employees, without evidence, Stavropoulos said.
Before 2015, ads were labeled as partisan and banned if the intention was to foster a positive impression of the government. However, the then-Liberal government changed the rules so that partisan ads can only be banned if they include the name, image, voice or logo of an elected member associated with a political party.
The rules were not changed again once the Progressive Conservatives were elected in 2018.
With files from the Canadian Press.