Right now on almost every radio station in the province ads are playing touting what 'Budget 2012' WILL do for Albertans.You probably have heard them yourself, and with the amount of tax dollars they are spending for saturation, you have probably heard them more than once. ( Herald story on 425K spent on budget ads)
But the thing is that budget 2012 is not yet passed into law and although it probably will pass there are NO guarantees that it will and as far as everything that I know about our parliamentary system assuming future actions of any parliament/legislature is in itself a breach.
I am not sure if 'breach of legislature' is the correct wording but terminology aside I think a case can be made that Redford's government has breached the privilege of the Alberta Legislature and its members by running advertisements on a budget that has NOT yet passed into law or received royal assent. (Does the fact that the budget may not pass, slim but indeed a possibility, elevate these ads to possibly be misleading advertising?)
A recent example from Ottawa illustrates this nicely. Back in December the CPC put up a web site entitled "scrappedtheregistry.com" (notice the past tense) and put out ads saying that the gun registry was "almost gone". It should be noted that these were from a political party and NOT the government, as is the case with Redford/PC budget ads, and the issue was brought up as being a breach of privilege.
"“The government, and that includes the Conservative Party, cannot misinform the public that a bill has passed when in fact it’s not passed,” said Mr. Bryant. “And it’s contemptuous of Parliament because it presumes a parliamentary result before there’s been a vote.”
Here is Kady O'Malley from the CBC wrote on the subject. Of note is a ruling the Speaker made back in 1989 when the government of the day ran ads on the GST before it was passed into law. Fraser warned that he would "not be so generous" if such a controversy presented itself in future.
While I doubt that Speaker Kowalski would actually find the PC's to be in breach over this obvious attempt to use tax payer dollars to campaign on something that is not even law, it does speak to a problem we in Alberta have with regards to advertising and political games so close to an election. Something the now Premier spoke out herself against back when she was running for PC leader.
"It is about playing politics and whether it's a real advantage or not there are many people who perceive it to be an advantage," Redford said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"It's the way that politics used to be done, and nothing in our campaign has been about the way that politics used to be done.
"Redford said she would commit to calling an election in March 2012 and every four years from that date. She said Albertans are supportive of the idea and that several other provinces already use the same model.
"They understand the issues that are coming. They don't believe any political party should have even if it is a theoretical upper hand in managing the political agenda and then picking the date accordingly," she added."
But now that she is won the job we can see that nothing at all has changed and her party continues to play games and use taxpayer money to promote the PC party.
This is not doing politics differently, this is doing it exactly the same as it has been done for 40 years under PC rule and to make matters worse we still don't know the "fixed election date"yet!
Quick Update: I asked Kady O'Malley if there was a follow-up to her piece linked to above.
AA: @kady Off topic but was there ever a follow up to this: bit.ly/vTMQ3M FYI Happening right now in AB: bit.ly/x4VSyM
Kady: @Albertaardvark I've been following that - seems to me at the very least could be a point of privilege in your leg. (Is it sitting atm?)
AA: @kady Yes it is currently sitting.
Kady: @Albertaardvark The relevant precedent for your speaker would seem to be Fraser's ruling re: GST ads placed by the Mulroney govt.
AA: @kady That is what I too was also thinking. Now the question is, will it be brought up in the #ableg? Thanks.