Sunday 27 March 2011

Illegal advertising, the Insiders, Twitter

One more post about this political advertising thing, then I'll leave it alone. I think I've finally got to the bottom of the matter. To recap:

o Two posts ago I discussed a Hugh McFadyen-bashing mail ad that came addressed as an official-looking government communication. I thought to myself "this can't be right .. what are the rules about this?"
o Last post I discovered that advertising rules don't apply to advertising if they're paid by the taxpayer instead of by the party. This loophole was one of Gary Doer's first accomplishments as Premier back in 2000.

In the comments of the last post Steve Lambert pointed me to The Legislative Assembly Act, where they have some rules about how these tax dollars can be spent by a caucus. Specifically: section 52.23 says that this money may not be used for advertising ... but ... only within 60 days of an election. So right now they can spend it on whatever they want.

But!! What about this whole thing about disguising partisan ads with a Manitoba Legislative Assembly address and the Manitoba coat of arms? Isn't there some rule against that? Well, there is one more thing: the expenses authorized under section 52.23 are subject to yet another act (the fifth one I've looked at now):

The use of money received under this section is subject to the criteria or guidelines established under section 6.1 of The Legislative Assembly Management Commission Act
Makes you wonder why they can't put all this shit in one place. Anyhow, let's mosey on over to this other act and see what kind of criteria or guidelines have been established:

6.1(1) The commission must, as soon as reasonably practicable after the coming into force of this section, establish criteria or guidelines to ensure public funds are used appropriately in respect of

(a) material printed, mailed or distributed electronically; and

(b) advertising in newspapers, magazines or other periodicals, on the Internet, on radio or television, or on billboards, buses or other property normally used for commercial advertising;

by members and by caucuses of recognized political parties.

That's it. That's all there is, except some crap about how this supposed commision is to come up with these guidelines "in a timely fashion". This section was created in 2008, and they haven't even created guidelines yet. They don't even have interim guidelines. Apparently "as soon as reasonably practicable" is somewhere north of three years.

So the bottom line is this: The rules about advertising using tax dollars are: THERE ARE NO RULES.

Good to know...


As part of the Free Press' election coverage, they had a bit in the Saturday Free Press called "The Insiders". Theses guys -- one from each main party -- are supposed to give us their "analysis and insights of the campaign."

The concept is a good one. I like listening to party insiders on TV share their views and perspectives, and it adds to the coverage, but only if their views are actually insightful.

Of the three Insiders that the Freep assembled, only Orange Crush had what I would call a good write up. In fact, the NDP insider's analysis was excellent. The commentary was reasonable, it wasn't patrionizing or overly biased, and he or she even tossed in a little joke about Viagra. Well done.

True Grit's commentary wasn't bad, but had a fair bit of Harper bashing that wasn't entirely accurate, and it was kind of snarky. But it was a masterpiece next to the Conservative commentary...

Big Blue gave us no insight at all; just talking points mingled with insults of the opponents. Instead of giving us a "best opening salvo" like the other insiders, Blue gives us a "worst opening salvo" by ranting about the "sheer stupidity" of the opposition parties. The whole thing was meanspirited, and this insider is doing his party no favours by giving people the impression that the inside of the Conservative party is ugly.

My advice to Blue is to read Orange's column and learn from it. Both for my sake as a reader, and for your party's.


Guess who's on twitter? Yes ... you're right ... Charlie Sheen is on twitter, smart ass. I mean: guess who else is on twitter? Me! @cherenkov_blog I don't know what I doing yet. I'm not following anybody. I don't have any followers. I don't know how the stupid thing works. I just thought I should reserve my place in the twittersphere in case I should need it, with elections coming up and everything.

I will probably start following some of you and getting the hang of it, but I have no plans to be a hard-core twit. I am very wary of The Twitter. I have seen The Twitter suck people right out of the bloggosphere, like Hacks and Wonks and Policy Frog. Beware the power of The Twitter.

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