An ad touting the Conservative government's new tax cuts has hit the airwaves and it's being paid for by Canadian taxpayers.
The ad, set in suburbia, promotes four tax measures that have not yet been approved by Parliament and which are aimed at families with young children. The tax cuts are expected to cost $26.8 billion over six years and to benefit around four million families, according to the government's own figures.
The Department of Finance has not revealed the cost of airing the new commercial, but a spokesperson told The National Post's John Ivison that $10 million has been allocated for Economic Action Plan ads this year. Radio ads promoting the tax cuts are also airing.
The most costly of the new tax measures is a hike to the Universal Child Care Benefit. When passed, the measure will see parents receive cheques covering six months of the increase to the benefit in July of 2015. The next federal election is scheduled to take place in October of 2015.
The commercial includes a 1-800 number and a link to the Economic Action plan website. However, parents with children under the age of 17 do not need to take any action to receive their child-care-benefit cheques.
The Tories landed in hot water last year over similar ads promoting the Canada Jobs Grant, which had not yet been approved by the provinces or Parliament. Advertising Standards Canada ruled the ads were "misleading" and the government promised to take them off the air.
But the government is now once again using taxpayers' money to advertise programs that have either not been passed by Parliament or which address key areas of political disagreement with opposition parties.
On top of the tax cut ads, the government is also running commercials touting measures to take care of veterans and highlighting the health risks of using marijuana. The NDP and Liberals have heavily criticized the government for closing veterans offices and the Conservative Party has repeatedly attacked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for supporting the legalization of marijuana.
Ontario banned partisan government advertising during Dalton McGuinty's first term in office. The province's Auditor General now evaluates all ads to ensure they do not promote the political interests of the ruling party.
At the federal level, Liberal MP David McGuinty, brother of Dalton, has introduced a private members' bill the would impose Ontario's model for dealing with government ads. McGuinty has described the latest government ad campaign as "a complete abuse of taxpayers' money" and "cheating."
Since the original $136 million devoted to economic stimulus Action Plan ads in the wake of the financial crisis, the Conservative government has expanded the campaign to encompass all sorts of economic policies and programs.
In 2013, the Liberals estimated that the government has spent $548 million on advertising in six years.
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