Ford Govt. ministers tight-lipped on cost of anti-carbon tax campaign

While we know how much money has been budgeted overall by the Ford Government in its fight against the federal carbon tax, cabinet ministers are staying tight-lipped about how much is being spent on the advertising campaign portion. 

On Wednesday, the PCs released a new radio ad against the Liberals' price on pollution and are moving forward with putting stickers on gas station pumps throughout Ontario explaining its effect on gas prices. 

The stickers will not include the rebate portion of the program and stations face fines if they aren't displayed or if inspections are obstructed. 

Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy was asked multiple times how much the advertising is costing taxpayers. 

"We've got a budget for letting the people of Ontario know exactly what is going on," he said. "I haven't gone through line by line the budget numbers." 

The premier's office says the cost of the advertising campaign - as well as legal challenges - come out of the $30 million pot that's been budgeted by the government to fight the Liberal plan. 

While the office says what they have spent so far in advertising and legal challenges is well below the $30 million set aside, it won't say exactly how much is going towards the radio and sticker ad campaign. 

Government House Leader Todd Smith also wouldn't comment on the cost. 

"We said that we were going to use every tool at our disposal," he said. 

In an ironic twist, NDP MPP Taras Natyshak tabled a private member's bill Wednesday that's identical to the one introduced by current cabinet minister Sylvia Jones in 2017, which aimed to end partisan advertising. 

Natyshak calls the PCs actions hypocritical.

"These guys were apoplectic when the Liberals were in power about the use of public dollars for advertisement," he said. "Now when it comes time for them to actually justify how much of the public dollar they're spending, they can't come up with a figure?" 

As for how much of the $30 million could be spent on advertising, Natyshak said he can only guess. 

"Imagine putting a sticker on every gas pump in the province of Ontario, the logistics around that, the printing, we're definitely talking about in the millions of dollars, let alone the enforcement side," he said.