On May 12, the provincial government launched a $5 million advertising campaign that, in part, is meant to encourage you to check out its HSTinBC.ca Website. But, according to records exclusively obtained via a freedom of information request that Website - which went live on January 21 - had attracted just 140,101 visits as June 6. By comparison, Public Eye - which doesn't have taxpayer dollars to run ads featuring Stickmen during the Stanley Cup playoffs - received 247,591 visits during the same 136 day period.
In an email, finance ministry communications director Matt Gordon defended the effectiveness of the government's advertising campaign.
"To compare a news site to an informational site is like comparing apples to oranges. News sites change daily with new information for browsers to review. A site like HSTinBC.ca is a static site," Mr. Gordon wrote. "In the context of government sites in general, this site has proven to be very popular."
But even more popular than HSTinBC.ca has been University of British Columbia law student Chris Thompson's online video attacking former premier Bill Vander Zalm's Fight HST campaign.
Mr. Thompson's video has so far received more than 100,000 views in the two months since it was uploaded - again, without the benefit government advertising.
"This shows what an astonishing waste of taxpayer dollars the B.C. government's advertising campaign is," said Bill Tieleman, a spokesperson for Fight HST. "Not only has the government been wasting taxpayer dollars trying to sell them something they don't want but they're not even willing to kick the tires."
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned records.