Chilliwack MLA John Les twice cried foul last week over another MLA’s advertising spending, an action Les insists has nothing to do with election season.
The BC Liberal representative has filed two requests with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to investigate ads and a press release coming out of NDP MLA Harry Lali’s office.
Lali represents the nearby Fraser-Nicola provincial riding.
Les says the negative and partisan ads appear to have been paid for with Lali’s taxpayer funded constituency allowance, prohibited in the members’ handbook.
“When you think about it, it’s pretty clear,” says Les. “You don’t use taxpayer dollars to run partisan political campaigns. That’s just not appropriate.”
Printed in the Lillooet News, Merritt Herald, and Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal, the ads included such phrases as “Oh, no! Not another Liberal boondoggle!!” and “Christy Clark’s so-called ‘jobs plan’ will kill BC jobs.” All feature Lali’s profile picture, list his Merritt office address as the contact, and link to the BC NDP website.
Prior to these ads, Les also caught Lali on a press release from last week, which attacked Christy Clark and the Liberal leadership, while flattering the NDP.
Lali apologized for both incidents, telling the media on Monday that he “takes full responsibility,” and that the “honest mistake” won’t happen again.
But Les doesn’t buy it, because Lali has served in the Legislature for 17 years.
“(Lali) blames it on the fact that he has new staff, but I think that’s just a fellow not taking full responsibility,” says Les.
The ads will now be paid for by the NDP, or by Lali himself, but not by the taxpayer.
Lali was unavailable to comment on the issue.
Now that the complaints have been registered, it is up to the Speaker to determine whether or not to investigate Lali’s expenditures, and Les will not pursue the issue any further. He insists that the complaints are not election motivated.
Constituency office funds can be used for running informational ads that are non-partisan in nature.
Since January, the BC NDP has been calling for an extra layer of bureaucracy to ring all government ads through a provincial approval process.