Pattison Outdoor censors IntegrityBC ad– CBS Outdoor accepts identical ad

IntegrityBC slammed Pattison Outdoor today for refusing to run the organization’s transit shelter ad as the non-partisan organization launched the first phase of its “Who really runs BC?” campaign to reform BC’s election finance laws.

Pattison Outdoor refused to run the ad in Victoria and Vancouver, claiming that it “doesn’t comply with our lease regulations (with the City of Vancouver and Victoria) or with Canadian Advertising Standards rules and regulations.”

Yet, despite their claims, CBS Outdoor accepted the exact same ad for the transit shelters it operates in Vancouver. The first ad went up yesterday on West Broadway (corner Fir St.) and a second on West 4th Ave. (corner Trafalgar). A similar ad is also running in today’s Nanaimo Daily News and Kamloops Daily News.

“So, who really runs BC? It would seem Pattison Outdoor thinks they might,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “Their decision smacks of censorship and – in a perverse way – symbolizes everything that’s wrong with BC’s election finance laws.”

IntegrityBC noted that Pattison Outdoor is owned by Jimmy Pattison whose Great Pacific Capital Corp was the single largest donor to the BC Liberal party in 2010 at $208,000. The decision of Pattison Outdoor to censor the ad is not only ironic because of that, but raises unique constitutional issues as well.

Transit shelters sit on public property and form part of a city’s public space. It’s a stretch to imagine that this ad could offend public sensibilities other than corporate sensibilities at Pattison Outdoor, according to IntegrityBC.

The moment CBS Outdoor agreed to run the ad, the excuses offered up by Pattison Outdoor were cut out from under them. “This was a dumb political decision that shows the depths that BC Liberal pals will go to protect their friends in Victoria.”

The organization also wondered whether the various candidates for mayor in the two cities would object to the ad being placed in local transit shelters.

IntegrityBC’s “Who really runs BC?” campaign is calling for a ban on corporate and union funding of political parties, a cap on personal donations and a Citizen’s Assembly to study and make binding recommendations on additional reforms.