The CBC reports this morning that the Harper government spent $2.5 million to promote its non existent jobs program:
CBC News has also learned that that advertising cash came from an $11-million fund set aside last year for Employment and Social Development Canada to promote the government as a job creator.
Before the Canada Job Grant TV ad went to air, the government paid Environics Research Group almost $70,000 to conduct market research. Focus groups saw a near-final version of the commercial.
Environics reported that the ad would have the desired result:
"The main message was consistently seen as positive and one that inspired hope…. In light of seeing the new ad for the Canada Job Grant, most now believe the Government of Canada is on the right track regarding skills training and the job market in Canada.”
Of course, the ad was simply untrue. The program required provincial and industrial participation to get it up and running. It wasn't up and running at the time the ads were broadcast; and it's still not up and running.
Michael Harris writes that this is only one chapter in a long saga. The Harperites don't believe in funding government. But they do believe in advertising:
The Economic Action Plan was a propaganda vehicle originating in the Finance Department to make Canadians think Jim Flaherty is the best finance minister on the planet … you know, ‘STFU’ Jim.
Jim Flaherty isn’t the only Harper minister who has dropped a major ad bill on the public (his was the biggest, though). The government has earmarked $16.5 million to promote pipelines and “responsible resource development” — up from $9 million last year. Joe Oliver may be pleased, but not even Rob Ford on a bender could fail to see the politics at work here.
On the issue of the Northern Gateway pipeline project, the Harper government has never acted as a regulator — always and only as an advocate. It has nothing to do with access to government services, or programs for citizens, or civic pride. It’s about making Canadians get with the only program this PM really cares about: rigging the system to get bitumen-bearing pipelines to the B.C. coast come hell or high water.
And, as for the claim that the Harper government was creating jobs, remember we lost 46,000 of them last month. Scott Clark and Peter Devries report that: "In 2013, only 102,000 net jobs were created — the worst job creation record this country has seen since 2009, with most of the gains in part-time employment."
Mr. Harper rode to power on public outrage at the Chretien government's spending on ads in Quebec. And, in 2002, he rose in the House and asked:
“Will the prime minister stop the waste and abuse right now and order a freeze of all discretionary government advertising?”
Joseph Goebbels showed us how the Big Lie works. Stephen Harper has taken his advice to heart.