“I swear, one of these days we're going to find out the whole action plan thing is the result of a bet between the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister over how stupid Canadians really are,” he said in a rant Tuesday night.
The CBC comedian said he was originally a fan of the commercials, often featuring actors in hard hats looking busy, but assumed they would stop when the action plan, first introduced in 2009, came to an end.
“I mean, McDonalds doesn't advertise the Shamrock Shake in July,” he said. “They don't spend millions of dollars telling people to eat the McRib when the McRib is not on the menu. No. That would be idiotic.”
Instead, Mercer says that the Harper Tories are spending more on the advertisements than ever before.
“The only action going on is the action of buying ads saying there’s action even though there’s no action,” he said.
Mercer has a particular bone to pick with a recent ad suggesting the Conservative government loves the environment. The commercial is evidence they’re just making stuff up, he says.
“Some people, they think this government is doing a great job, some people think not so much,” he said. “That's politics. But no one thinks they love the environment. Not loving the environment is part of their brand.”
Mercer’s wrath may have been triggered by a report that revealed Ottawa shelled out more than $78 million in total advertising last year. While the campaigns told Canadians about everything from the War of 1812 to elder abuse, promoting the programs available through Canada’s economic action plan was a key theme.
"And every action plan ad ends the same way,” Mercer said. “Visit our website, find out what's in it for you. Well, I'll save you the trip. I’ll tell you what’s in it for all of us this year: another bill for advertising — 78 million dollars. That's not an action plan, that's madness."
Mercer released a very similar rant in October after it was revealed the Tories approved $16 million for action plan ads in the first quarter of 2012.
"Deep in their hearts, they think we're very stupid,” he said. “They think we won't care that they're cutting prison chaplains, and meat inspection and scientists because this week's episode of 'Glee' or 'Honey Boo Boo' is brought to you by Canada's action plan."
And it would appear that Mercer isn't the only Canadian who has soured on the campaign.
A recent poll by Forum Research found that most Canadians see the ads as either Conservative spin or a waste of money. According to the Ottawa Citizen, only one respondent in ten found the ads to be a normal element of government communications.
Perhaps fittingly, the government released a new ad on Monday that may contain hints about this week’s federal budget. In it, the government promises a “responsible plan” to protect Canadians from global economic risks and return to balanced budgets.
Stay tuned to find out what’s in it for you.