“When people see political ads, they think someone's lying to them.” — Mark McKinnon, U.S. political consultant/commentator.
Premier Christy Clark has been all over your television set since late August, telling you what a great job she is doing holding down government spending and creating jobs.
It’s a masterful, confident performance. It’s also a political ad that sometimes strays further from the truth than a Donald Trump speech.
Let’s deconstruct the BC Liberal Party ad and fact check it.
First, Clark says: “Controlling government spending is really the foundation, is the bedrock of what we’re trying to do... we’ve got to control government spending.”
But when it comes to government capital spending, the level of control is similar to a drunken sailor on shore leave — except the BC Liberals have been on a spending bender for 15 years.
And under Captain Clark’s watch, capital debt has grown from $45.2 billion in 2011, when she became premier, to $65.3 billion today — a 45 per cent and $20 billion jump in only five years. By 2019 it is expected to reach $72 billion.
If that’s control, be very afraid if the BC Liberals actually lose what little they have!
Going back further, when the BC Liberals took office in 2001 the total provincial debt stood at $34 billion — it has almost doubled in 15 years.
And the Canadian Taxpayers Federation notes that B.C.’s debt increases by $3.4 million every day — or $2,333 every minute.
But somehow Clark believes despite all that she is “controlling government spending.” And she is — if controlling means a nine per cent increase every year.
Now, debt is not always a bad thing — governments borrow to build hospitals, schools, rapid transit and roads — and the best time for loans is when interest rates are rock-bottom low, like they are now.
But don’t have the unmitigated nerve to tell us that you are controlling spending when you are doing the exact opposite!
Second, Clark’s TV ad says controlling spending is needed because “we’ve got to keep taxes down.” And that’s when another nose-stretcher occurs.
While B.C.’s income taxes are low, they are offset for most people by a wide range of other increasingly expensive fees that are effectively taxes, like BC Medical Services Plan premiums.
Between 2010 and 2016, MSP premiums have jumped an astonishing 31.6 per cent — and unlike income tax, you pay the same premium if you are middle income or filthy rich.
Then there are a host of other taxes and fees on everything from gas to booze, plus increases in BC Hydro rates, ICBC rates and much more.
Third, in the BC Liberal Party TV ad Clark says “we have to create jobs.” And, overall, BC has done well compared to all other provinces the past few years.
But there is also an alarming trend seen in Statistics Canada’s most recent monthly Labour Force Survey that showed B.C. lost 20,000 full time jobs between August and September.
The BC Federation of Labour warns of a hollowing out of the province’s economy.
“And when you look deeper into the statistics, our economy is not creating enough good-paying, full-time positions,” says federation president Irene Lanzinger. “Meanwhile, stable, full-time employment is being replaced with more precarious and lower-paying, part-time jobs,”
Lastly, in deconstructing the BC Liberals’ ad one also notices the optics.
Interestingly, Clark is shown only talking to women in the ad — there appears to be one male figure who is there but cut out of any shot that would show his face or body.
That’s likely very, very intentional because polling shows there is a gender gap in support for the BC Liberals. Mainstreet Research’s most recent poll in September showed an 11 per cent gap, with the NDP at 39 per cent among women compared to the BC Liberals at 28 per cent.
So Clark has to woo women to win the election — and you’ll see them in future TV ad spots, as well as hearing more about what the BC Liberals are claiming to do for women with their policies.
Telling Trump-style tall tales about “controlling government spending” and keeping taxes down when the opposite is true won’t win votes with anyone who checks the facts.