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B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix speaks to the media regarding the Liberal government’s taxpayer-funded advertising campaign in Vancouver on Jan. 14, 2013. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix speaks to the media regarding the Liberal government’s taxpayer-funded advertising campaign in Vancouver on Jan. 14, 2013. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Government ads should have to meet non-partisan standards, Dix says Add to ...

B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix says he will surrender control over government advertising to the provincial Auditor-General if his party wins power in the May provincial election.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dix unveiled the policy, noting he was borrowing the idea from Ontario’s Liberal government because “good ideas can sometimes come from different places.”

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He said he was happy to give up the political tactical lever of using ads to bolster government fortunes. “Not only am I willing, I am,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Premier Christy Clark ruled out changes to the Liberal government’s approach to ad spending during a scrum with reporters after an unrelated news conference. Asked about the prospect of a new NDP policy, she said she would have to see it before commenting.

The back and forth on the issue Tuesday had the feel of an election campaign months before the parties will hit the campaign trail in April ahead of the May. 14 vote.

Last week, Mr. Dix said he had some ideas about managing government ads, but no timetable for releasing his proposals, but he said Tuesday a wave of B.C. Liberal government ads some have deemed partisan made the idea timely.

“People legitimately say, ‘[The NDP] is not running partisan ads. How is that going to work?’ Here’s how it’s going to work specifically and in detail.

“This contrasts the Liberals wasting money at a time when these are difficult fiscal times for the government with our approach, which is making sure taxpayers’ money is well spent and people will make the contrast.”

In their first legislative session, Mr. Dix said a B.C. NDP government would pass legislation granting the Auditor-General the power to review and approve government-produced advertising, with orders to ban advertising featuring a cabinet minister or fostering a negative view of government critics and disallow non-essential government advertising in the pre-writ period.

“If an ad can’t meet this test, the government shouldn’t be running it,” said Mr. Dix.

At a scrum with reporters earlier in the day, Premier Christy Clark of the B.C. Liberal Party ruled out changes to ad policy and declined comment on the NDP policy.

Follow on Twitter: @ianabailey

 

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