Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mad Men (or the case of the disapearing PM)

This just in...apparently some 30 photos of the PM have disappeared from the government website explaining the progress of "Canada's Economic Action Plan". Theft? Computer hackers? Or concern that perhaps the line between government communications and political ads had been crossed...


It's an important question. Where does government advertising to inform Canadians end and partisan advertising begin? And of course, who is footing the bill? In this case it was you and I, as the ads/website in question were taxpayer funded.

The Canadian Press called the government on this one and, as the article attached notes, the site was quietly changed and stern denials issued that anything had occurred in the first place. He who controls the present, I guess...

For me, this is a dangerous space to be playing in. These initiatives are no different than the work being done by Service Canada and therefore should be branded "Government of Canada" versus "Harper Government". For some, that might sound like splitting hairs but there is an important distinction.

The "Government of Canada" does not have a slate of candidates and it does not seek election - it represents all Canadians without prejudice. It does not live and die through elections. Conversely, the "Harper Government" is a political animal whose survival depends on the continued support of Canadian voters and their elected representatives. Using taxpayers' money so flagrantly to build and maintain support is worrisome.

That's my two cents. Now, what would Don Draper say?

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