Liberals spent $24,000 on tourism video that Tories say broke ban on partisan ads
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with celebrity chef Kristen Kish, in an Instagram post (Source: Instagram / justinpjtrudeau)
Published Tuesday, May 24, 2016 3:35PM EDT
The federal government spent approximately $24,000 to produce a tourism video that prominently features Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The video, released for the first time Tuesday, had triggered opposition allegations earlier this month that the Liberal government broke their own rules on advertising and misspent taxpayers money.
The three-minute segment was commissioned by the federal tourism agency, Destination Canada.
It shows Trudeau sitting down for a meal at Montreal restaurant Garde Manger with U.S. celebrity chef Kristen Kish, while chef Chuck Hughes cooks for them.
Kish is a past winner of the American cooking contest show, Top Chef.
During their conversation, the shirt-sleeved Trudeau promotes Canadian restaurants and wines as they dine on oysters, crab from Baie Comeau, Que., and a beef dish prepared by Hughes.
Trudeau tells Kish it is hard to identify a typical Canadian meal because of country’s ethnic diversity.
“It is a challenge to fall into what is typical Canadian food because there is no typical Canadian,” he says.
“You look just as Canadian as I look Canadian,” he tells Kish, who was born in Korea.
He also says that while Canadian wines were once considered “suspicious,” they now win awards the world over.
At the end of the meal, Kish asks Trudeau to pose for a selfie, and he obliges.
“This didn’t happen if I didn’t get a picture,” she says.
Conservative MPs alleged Trudeau breached a strict ban on the use of partisan advertising paid for by government that was put into place in May.
Among the new conditions announced by Treasury Board President Scott Brison was a prohibition on appearances by ministers or MPs in government ads.
The Liberals, however, claimed that Trudeau’s appearance in the tourism video didn’t breach the new rules because it was part of a social media campaign and there was no purchase of broadcast time -- an apparent contradiction of Brison’s earlier remarks, which suggested social media campaigns were covered by the policy.
The ad was released on YouTube on Tuesday.
A spokesman for Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger said there was no cost for Trudeau’s appearance, as he was in Montreal on the day the video was recorded.
“Destination Canada tells me the half-day shoot of the interview and the post-production cost about $24-thousand including all expenses for the crew and Chef Kristin, and including taxes,” said James Fitz-Morris.
“This is money that was budgeted for the video regardless of whom Chef Kristin interviewed.”