Ottawa’s $9 Million Ad Campaign Targets Canada’s Cellphone Companies

The CBC reports the latest federal government ad campaign targeting Canada’s wireless companies has a budget of $9 million: Industry Canada is spending $8 million on the ads with Public Works funding the additional $1 million.

The funds for the campaign have been questioned by the NDP, seeking clarification:

New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault tabled a question on Oct. 16 asking Industry Minister James Moore how much his department was spending on the ads and for the website design. The government has 45 days to respond to written questions tabled in the House.

In September, print and radio ads launched, while the TV ads started on Nov. 4 and will run until Dec. 22; the latter will be worth $2.6 million of the total ad budget.

Minister James Moore’s spokesman, Jake Enwright, told the CBC “Our government has an obligation to ensure the facts about our wireless policy are communicated to Canadians. These ads provide those facts,” and continued “Our policy to increase competition in the wireless sector is providing Canadians with more choices and access to the latest technology at lower prices.”

Bernard Lord from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), a lobby group representing Rogers, Telus, Bell and other carriers in Canada, said “No one believes this is a good use of tax dollars,” as the ads don’t offer real information or mention specific policy:

“We believe this is unprecedented — for the federal government to use tax dollars to attack an industry that contributes so much to the Canadian economy, that has made record investments in recent years, and that plays by the rules,”

Gregory Thomas, head of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said Ottawa should follow the Ontario government’s model where the auditor general reviews government advertising before it is approved.

Earlier this summer the ‘Big 3’ incumbent carriers launched the ‘Fair for Canada’ campaign to lobby against Ottawa’s wireless policies, which were believed to involve having US giant Verizon setup shop here.

Ottawa responded with their own ad blitz against incumbent carriers later in the summer. Just yesterday, the CRTC Wireless Code came into effect, a new policy aimed at protecting wireless consumers.

What do you think about these ads by Ottawa? Could the looming 2015 Federal election have anything to do with them?