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Anti-NDP group ICBA won't be buying pre-election ads

An organization that has mounted advertising attacks on the New Democratic Party during past British Columbia elections plans to be quieter this time around.

When asked about his organization's advertising plans, Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. said, "We've decided to support candidates this year, so we're supporting candidates we think may need financial assistance. We chose not to do a public campaign."

In 2009 the ICBA spent $376,985 on election advertising targeting the NDP in the 90 days before the election, according to a report filed with Elections BC. In 2005 the organization spent $612,100 that it disclosed as election advertising, almost all of it on a television campaign.

Asked why the ICBA made the change in strategy, Hochstein said, "We thought it was better to do it this way than to do a public campaign . . . There many ways to participate. Previous years we didn't give money to candidates and we did a public campaign. We thought it would be more effective this time to support individual candidates."

Hochstein made the comments following a briefing for reporters on how the ICBA believes an NDP government would change trades training in the province. The ICBA has consistently been an outspoken opponent of both the NDP and unions.

With six weeks until the May 14 election, polls continue to show the NDP with a lead of about 20 per cent over the BC Liberals among decided voters.

Asked if he's resigned to the NDP forming government, Hochstein said, "I think it's an uphill battle for the Liberal Party to win. It's never over until its over. I haven't given up hope, but it will be a struggle."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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