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The Liberals are banking on the fact that Canadians have grown tired of the barrage of government and Conservative advertising on television during the hockey playoffs and will start to see the campaigns as a symbol of federal waste.
The Harper government and the Conservative Party of Canada have been broadcasting a mix of television ads that attack Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, while putting out a positive message about Stephen Harper's economic leadership and Ottawa's job-creation agenda.
The Liberals have countered with an ad in which Mr. Trudeau states that "Canadians deserve better," but his third-place party does not have the financial backbone of the Conservative Party, whose ads have benefited from more air time.
Details of the cost of the various ad campaigns have not been made public, but there is no doubt that they are proving a financial boon to the country's television networks.
A Conservative MP warned last week in the House that the party would run its ads during the playoffs, a key time slot as Canadian hockey fans across the country are glued to their television sets and do not wish to miss a second of action. In addition, the federal government has also been running a large number of ads during the same period, promoting its Economic Action Plan, as it has dubbed its 2013 budget.
The Liberals are now attacking the advertising spree as a waste of taxpayers' dollars.
"It is becoming obvious that, rather than helping Canadians, the government would rather continue to spin Canadians," Mr. Trudeau said in the House this week. "Canadians have been inundated with these famous action plan ads for four years now. When is the government going to stop wasting taxpayers' money on ads during Hockey Night in Canada?"
The Liberal Party went on to argue that the ads could have better served middle-class Canadians, including young students looking for work, a constant theme since Mr. Trudeau won the leadership in April.
"The [Conservatives] are wasting tens of millions of dollars on useless TV ads during the hockey playoffs. The price of one action plan ad during the playoffs could pay for 32 student summer jobs," Liberal MP Scott Brison added. "Why are the Conservatives wasting so much money on bogus advertising while cutting jobs for young Canadians?"
Mr. Harper shot back that the federal government has been putting out a series of measures to help out Canadians, and asked the Liberal opposition to stop being so negative.
"We keep waiting to hear some positive and substantive ideas from the leader of the Liberal Party. In the absence of those, I would urge him to look at the important measures in the budget and, rather than defend special tax breaks for Chinese companies, actually stand on the side of Canadians here," Mr. Harper said during Question Period.
The Conservatives have added that the federal advertising budget has been going down. The peak under the current administration was reached in 2009-2010, when the government launched its stimulus program. That fiscal year, Ottawa spent $136-million on advertising, a number that fell to $79-million in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
The expenditures for the ongoing fiscal year are expected to be lower. In a statement, Treasury Board defended the government's communications strategy.
"It is the responsibility of the government to communicate on important programs and services available to Canadians. Advertising is a key way for the government to inform Canadians about important issues such as time-limited stimulus measures, tax credits and public health issues," said a spokeswoman for Treasury Board President Tony Clement.
Daniel Leblanc is a parliamentary reporter in the Ottawa bureau.