Ford government's anti-carbon tax TV ad cost Ontario taxpayers $4M: Auditor

A controversial television ad that aimed to denigrate the federal carbon tax but was roundly mocked for sending the opposite message cost Ontario taxpayers $4 million.

The cost of the ad, which was part of the Ford government's campaign against the Ottawa levy, was included in the auditor general's annual report released Wednesday.

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The ad, which featured a narrator listing ways in which the carbon tax would raise prices on everything from gas to groceries, became the subject of ridicule when it was first released earlier this year.

While the ad failed to mention the rebate that most households in Ontario will get from the carbon tax, the images accompanying the voice-over showed cascades of change pouring out of air vents, fuel pumps and store shelves.

The auditor's report criticized the pricey ad, saying that while current regulations give the auditor general's office less power to object to partisan messages, the government's campaign likely wouldn't have past muster under the old rules.

It said the primary objective of the campaign was to foster a negative impression of the federal government and its carbon pricing policy, while painting a positive impression of the provincial governing party by saying that Ontario has a better plan for the environment.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.

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