Friday, August 7, 2015

How the Harper Government Uses Taxpayer-Funded Campaign Videos

As I have posted before, the current government in Ottawa has a penchant for using Canadians' tax dollars to promote their own brand of politics.  None is more obvious than this:

....and this:

Don't you just love the militaristic opening music?  The videos are touted as "A week in the life of Canada's Prime Minister and more!".

Apparently, as we can see in the first video, Mr. Harper is quite capable of actually meeting with Premiers Wall and Clark, unlike those Premiers who are obviously "not doing a good job in their jurisdiction", Premiers Wynne and Notley!  In the second video, 24 SEVEN looks at some of the "key moments in the last session of Canada's Parliament".  Given that at least some of the key moments involved members of the NDP, Liberal and Green Parties, it is interesting to see that the video, paid for by Canadian taxpayers, pays attention to the key moments of only one person, Canada's current Prime Minister.  We can tell that this is little more than a campaign ad since it touts the Conservative Party's low tax platform, a talking point that we are hearing repeatedly from CPC candidates and MPs  during this election cycle.

In case you care, there is a new episode of 24 SEVEN available every Thursday.

Now, let's look at how much attention these three to four minute-long, taxpayer-funded videos are getting.  Here is a list of the most recent videos by date and the number of YouTube views:

July 23 to 29, 2015 - 634 views
July 16 to 22, 2015 - 410 views
July 9 to 15, 2015 - 678 views
July 2 to 8, 2015 - 832 views
June 25 to July 2, 2015 - 1306 views
June 18 to 24, 2015 - 1533 views
June 11 to 18, 2015 - 1116 views
June 5 to 11, 2015 - 850 views
May 28 to June 4, 2015 - 1427 views
May 21 to 27, 2015 - 2059 views
May 28 to June 4, 2015 - 1427 views
May 21 to 27, 2015 - 2059 views
May 14 to 29, 2015 - 1140 views
May 7 to 13, 2015 - 1212 views

Please note that the videos are also available on the Prime Minister's own website and that viewership information is not provided, however, you can get a transcript or download an mp4 of the edition free of charge!

The first of these videos was released to the public for the week of January 2 to 8, 2014 and since then, 80 weekly 24 SEVEN videos have been produced and released.  The first video had a whopping 12,660 hits.  From there, it was pretty much downhill, at least on YouTube.

The only video that I have seen that is of any interest to me personally is this one, despite the softball questions being tossed to Ms. Harper about her favourite colour, book and television show:

At least she seems to have a human side.

This collection of vanity videos is funded and produced out of the Privy Council Office, however, the Prime Minister's Office has never released the actual cost of the productions to the Canadian taxpayer, stating that three staff in the Privy Council Office work on publishing the videos on the website as part of their regular duties.  This, apparently, does not include the taxpayer-paid staff in the PMO who record and edit the videos.  For your illumination, the Privy Council Office is "the hub of non-partisan public service support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and its decision-making structures."  Non-partisan?  Yeah, right.  I wonder what colour the sky is in the Privy Council world?

Despite the fact that the videos are supposed to be "non-partisan", here is a screenshot that appeared on the Conservative Party of Canada website touting Mr. Harper and 24 SEVEN on August 5, 2015:

Note that as of this posting, the webpage had been changed and any reference to 24 SEVEN has been removed and this is what the same URL looks like now:

Keeping in mind that when Stephen Harper called this election on August 2, 2015, this is what he said (go to the 40 second mark):

Yes indeed, it is true that Canada's political parties should finance their own campaigns.  It is too bad at least one of them is not.

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