There seems to be more and more and more talk every day about the amount of money spent on advertising by the Federal Government. There's lots of stories, but seems to be precious little data. I thought about a freedom of information request, but lo-and-behold, it looks like all the information back to 2002 is available here.
So you don't have to go looking, I've put together a little summary sheet here:
Which, hopefully I'm not off base with my speculation here...this...this is a series of numbers that causes you to feel terrible about this country. In the last 10-11 years, the Federal Government has spent within sneezing distance of a billion dollars telling us about things.
Let's plunge into this a bit further though. What have they done with that money? Let's start by taking a look at a standard Conservative year (last year) and a standard Liberal year (let's say...2003-04). These years have roughly the same expenditures.
$14,891,026 - "Economic Action Plan". Hey everybody, the economy isn't so bad!
$8,228,706 - We're going to responsibly mine and log and all that stuff. Responsibly.
$7,020,497 - Encouraging us to take all of our tax deductions
$6,098,973 - Stay in school for better jobs, kids
$5,009,748 - I have to quote this one. "promoted practical information...help Canadian consumers...easily access...health and safety...make informed purchase decisions."
$4,118,772 - Celebrating the war of 1812
$3,723,952 - Telling recent immigrants all about the fantastic services we have to offer them
$3,453,392 - Hey kids! Join the army!
$3,488,181 - Don't forget about Rememberance Day, everybody.
$3,142,107 - Hey! Old people! Plan for your own retirement
$7,327,000 - Hey kids, join the army!
$6,788,000 - Stop smoking.
$7,000,000 (roughly) - Services for children and families?
$527,000 - "The University of Life" - Okay. This sounds terrible. At least it was cheap.
So, it looks like the Liberals were capable of spending just as much as the Conservatives on advertising. But that's where the similarities end (for me). There's some big differences.
1) The Liberals have far fewer large, splashy campaigns with fancy logos.
2) The Liberal campaigns seem far less self-serving.
The Liberals spend money on things like encouraging us not to smoke, telling us about e-filing for our income taxes and even how to save energy. The Conservatives have spent just an insane amount of money on things with no tangible direct impact to the average citizen. Economic Action Plan. Responsible Resource Development. Tax Cuts. Upcoming skills programs. All this stuff that is basically "Yay! Look at how great we are!" It's madness.
I encourage you to take a look yourself. I'll breakdown some of the major stuff.
$6,705,559 - Doubling up on awesome. Tax relief available via the Economic Action Plan
$1,326,286 - Celebrating the War of 1812. Again.
$4,779,865 - Jobs! Growth!
$4,778,243 - Jobs and skills again.
$4,155,337 - Oh, I remember these. Elder abuse.
$5,561,983 - The War on Drugs
$4,610,076 - Join the Army
$5,247,758 - Home Energy Retrofit
$10,710,366 - 2011 Census (okay...I'll allow this one)
$13,324.310 - Apparently they really, really wanted people to join the army
$4,560,101 - Do some book learnin' for better jobs, folks
$2,958,505 - Elder abuse. Again.
$6,148,853 - War on Drugs
$7,434,858 - Protect the kids
$6,067,934 - Spending money to tell you how to pay less tax.
$6,220,288 - Home Renovation Tax Credit
$8,168,048 - More on how much less tax you are paying
$16,498,667 - Canada's Economic Action Plan
$4,429,091 - War on Drugs
$11,401,978 - "Helping Canadian Workers"
$12,144,591 - We really, really want you to join the Army, kids. Nationally.
$2,440,917 - We want you to join so bad, we have separate regional ads.
$7,547,946 - Infrastructure Canada EAP - I have no idea what this is.
$6,953,968 - Aren't our parks great?
$23,533,280 - Holy shit. H1N1 cost a tonne of money.
$1,621,286 - Hey kids. Once you join the army and retire, join the RCMP!
There isn't a very good summary. Let's move on to the Liberals. See if you can spot the differences. I'm not cherry-picking here, either.
$14,353,000 - Join the Army
$4,657,000 - Buy Canada Savings Bonds
$3,704,000 - How to save energy at home (Energuide, Energy Star, One Tonne Challenge)
$2,891,000 - E-filing your tax return
$10,535,000 - Stop smoking, keep your baby healthy, etc.
$10,018,00 - One tonne challenge
$8,534,000 - Buy Canada Savings Bonds
$6,848,000 - Join the Army
$5,342,000 - E-file your tax return
There's no totals, but these were their large campaigns for the year.
E-File your taxes
Hey, Canada has a website!
Canada Savings Bonds