Ontario spending millions on government ads that are partisan: auditor
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk speaks during a news conference after her special report on the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games tabled in the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, November 30, 2016 12:55PM EST
TORONTO - Ontario's auditor general says taxpayers have footed the bill for millions of dollars in government advertising that is actually partisan.
Bonnie Lysyk warned last year that changes the government made to advertising rules could see her office reduced to a rubber stamp for ads even if she feels they're partisan.
The old rules banned ads as partisan if the intent was to foster a positive impression of government or a negative impression of its critics, but the new rules say an ad is partisan only if it uses an elected member's picture, name or voice, the colour or logo associated with the political party or direct criticism of a party or member of the legislature.
Lysyk lists in her annual report today several government ads that she would have flagged under the old rules as misleading or self-congratulatory, as opposed to giving the public information.
The government spent $8.1 million advertising the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, which was scrapped after an agreement to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, and Lysyk says she would have rejected some of those ads under the old rules.
Nearly $3 million was spent on a series of ad campaigns about the environment that Lysyk says could be seen as self-congratulatory or misleading.