Score one for a citizen activist. I take no credit . Here’s the short version..”rather than respond to the complaint… the BC Government has decided to withdraw the misleading $20Billion figure from all its advertising.”
An honest man sees a BCGovernment ad on CTV (I’ve seen the ads elsewhere) which includes a number of blue circles. The ad voiceover explains what the benevolent BCLiberal Government is doing for you. You understand the absolute necessity of paying your tax money to be told these things.
The light blue circles provide highlights, one of which claims that $20 Billion has already been invested in “Clean LNG” development in BC. It’s a big number..It’s a lot of money, which the forces of no (Opposition NDP and a Green) would presumably incinerate should they win the next election (thereby raising our GHG emissions with all that cash burning).
(Disregard whether or not LNG can be considered “clean”. Christy Clark said it was clean four years ago, and it’s been true ever since. “The $20 Billion already invested” has been a talking point of Christy Clark and Rich Coleman for quite a while. It’s been used, I would bet, at every BOT lunch and every private big dollar donor soiree for well over a year.)
Our honest man questions the government on the $20B dollar figure and gets an explanation full of holes.. (More detail in my last post here: http://www.bcveritas.com/index.php/2016/12/11/about-that-20billion-lng-investment/ )
It turns out the figure is derived from a combination of ..
a: Rights sales between competing oil and gas interests (not money in the local economy – not new money at all).
b: A percentage of capital expensed the last four years in Natural Gas Development in the Northeast of BC over the past 4 years or so. That percentage of normal activity assigned to “LNG development” appears pretty arbitrary.
Our honest man submits a complaint to the Advertising Standards Council of Canada, because these tax-funded ads are plainly misleading.
Who knew that the ASC worked so fast? Eleven days later, at the height of the Christmas season no less, our guy is informed that rather than respond to the complaint… the BC Government has decided to withdraw the misleading $20Billion figure from all its advertising. The ASC now considers the matter closed, though a case summary with no names attached will appear on the ASC’s quarterly report.
So here are the things I think matter because of this story.
The $20B figure was and is a partisan political talking point. We can’t stop Rich Coleman or Christy Clark saying it over and over. There is no law against politicians stretching the truth beyond recognition at campaign stops.
We can insist that whenever they say it, they are asked why the government they lead chose not to support the claim. We do that by making sure all the journalists know what happened when one honest man fact-checked bullshit.
We expect government advertising to be informative, reasonably accurate, and necessary communication, because we pay for it. Party advertisements during campaigns aren’t (sadly) held to the same standard. We can’t stop the BCLiberal party from making stuff up. But we can work to stop taxpayer funds being abused in the service of partisan ends.
We can make it embarrassing to make stuff up. We do that individually and together. We do it case-by-case. We can do it by thinking critically and asking questions when something doesn’t smell right. We do it the way our honest man did.. If you see a BC or Fed government ad that’s neither truthful nor in the public interest, you can make a complaint to the ASC here: http://www.adstandards.com/code
You might be surprised how effective raising your voice can be…
And btw.. Go read Laila’s latest on the subject of raising your voices.. https://lailayuile.com/2016/12/21/musings-from-the-notrealworld/