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New digital billboards put up along busy highways in the Lower Mainland by the B.C. Liberal Party say “Gas prices?” and “Spending more to commute?” followed by “Blame John Horgan.”
The Party is using funding from their caucus budget to pay for the billboards. B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver raised concerns about this funding model, saying it has to change.
Weaver is calling for a ban on using taxpayer money to pay for political attack ads.
Green Party house leader Sonia Furstenau will present the issue to the multi-party Legislative Assembly Management Committee to “ensure it considers that a policy be brought in that would no longer allow taxpayer funding of partisan ads.”
What the new policy will look like remains up in the air. That decision resides with the members of the committee.
Currently, there is no law or regulation explicitly forbidding a party from using its caucus funding for political advertising, says Weaver.
“There should be, but there’s not.”
Weaver, who heads the Green Party which props up the NDP government, also took issue with the billboard’s message, saying it was “absolutely false.”
“The whole is worse than the sum of the parts. You have taxpayer money being used and you have incorrect information,” Weaver says.
Carlie Pochynok, the Liberal caucus spokeswoman, defended the ads pointing to the NDP’s use of caucus funds to air radio ads attacking Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson in March.
“Every caucus is provided a budget to use as they see fit,” she said. “Our (ads) are basically opposition work that are more public because they’re giant billboards. Our job is to criticize government and hold them to account.”
The Liberals view Horgan as responsible for the high gas prices because he hasn’t done anything to bring them down or provide relief.
Just last month, gas prices in the province broke North American records, with some gas stations charging almost $1.80 per litre.