B.C. Greens call for government ad watchdog

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Your tax money shouldn’t be spent on partisan ads, and there should be someone making sure that doesn’t happen.

The B.C. Greens are out with that recommendation, upset over recent commercials bought by the NDP caucus.

Specifically, the party is questioning why taxpayer dollars are being used to pay for government commercials criticizing the leader of the B.C. Liberals.

Green leader Andrew Weaver is upset about the move from the NDP caucus and he wants a position created to police government ad spending.

“It doesn’t have to cost an awful lot of money,” says Weaver. “Just an arms-length adjudicator to ensure that when government puts out ads, they pass the smell test. That is, public taxpayer money is being used, and it’s being used in a non-partisan fashion.”

Weaver is open to what independent oversight would look like to enforce appropriate ad spending, but says consulting the auditor general would be a good first step.

“We have not prescribed a solution,” says Weaver. “We have a high policy level commitment, which is to have that oversight. We would engage stakeholders to determine which is the appropriate avenue. Our initial approach would be to go to the auditor general’s office and have discussions with her to determine whether or not she would feel that it was appropriate that her office, an existing office, act in that capacity. That would be the first place we would go to.”

Beyond the call for some sort of ad watchdog, Weaver says Green house leader Sonia Furstenau is working for expanded transparency with regard to how caucus money is spent, through the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, and that would also include more disclosure about ad expenditures using public money.

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