Cloudy with a Chance of Partisan Ads?
It was unseasonably warm today. As I write this it's already gotten dark out, and it's 17 degrees in Toronto. The average temperature for October is typically around 9 degrees.
But that's not the only strange thing about today's Environment Canada weather map. Looking above the map of the country I saw a banner ad.
A banner ad? On a government website? Yes. And not only is it a banner ad but it reads "Speech from the Throne - Strong Leadership. A Better Canada." Okay, if the government is going to put ads on the weather website the Speech from the Throne is a good thing to advertise about. More Canadians should be knowledgeable about what is announced in the Speech from the Throne. But look closer at it. It's blue. And white. And that slogan seems familiar. Of course, that's the slogan of the Conservatives' "election campaign before there's an election" campaign.
A partisan banner ad on a government website?
Is it just me, or does anyone else consider this crossing the line? The Environment Canada website is meant to be a source of information for all Canadians. People come to this site to find out what it will be like outside today. They don't come to the site to be told who to vote for. There isn't even an election going on. In fact, since there isn't an election going on, it seems that this ad is perfectly acceptable - at least in the eyes of the law.
In February Elections Canada spokesperson Stephane Bechand told the Toronto Star that "election advertising means the transmission to the public by any means during an election period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party or the election of a candidate." Of course, at this point there is nothing to prove that this advertisement was paid for by the Conservative party of Canada, but it seems awfully unlikely that anyone else would have asked for the ad to be placed there. However, since there isn't an election campaign going on no one needs to declare where the funding came from - so we will likely never know.
Could it be that the Stephen Harper's office realised that the Environment Canada Weatheroffice website is frequently visited by all Canadians and placed an ad there? There's no way to prove that either. However, regardless of how the ad got there or who paid for it the fact remains that it's quite blatantly advertising the Conservative Party. And I think that's wrong.
It's at least as bad as using a penny in an ad.
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