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PCs criticize government spending on 'boastful' ads at construction projects

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A 'Steady Growth, Good Jobs' provincial government sign on Pembina Highway. The PCs say they are a waste of money.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A 'Steady Growth, Good Jobs' provincial government sign on Pembina Highway. The PCs say they are a waste of money. Photo Store

The Selinger government is being criticized for boastful signs at construction projects that the Opposition Progressive Conservatives are calling misleading.

PC Leader Brian Pallister quipped Thursday that the province’s ubiquitous ‘Steady Growth, Good Jobs’ signs are "signs of desperation."

He said they’re a waste of money that could be better spent fixing roads and building infrastructure.

"They’re popping up everywhere," he told a news conference. "It’s about a government trying to get credit for doing things with other people’s money that it really hasn’t done."

Pallister said the signs contain no information about the project, such as cost or length of construction period, and instead have the appearance of election propaganda.

Their message, he said, is a "false advertisement," since Manitoba has poor job creation numbers compared with other provinces.

Since 2009, Manitoba has had the poorest gross domestic product growth west of Quebec, and its job growth is lower than any province with the exception of New Brunswick, he said.

Asked how the provincial practice is any different from the federal Conservative signage touting ‘Canada’s economic action plan,’ Pallister said he’s not a big fan of any government spending large amounts of taxpayers money to toot its own horn.

"I didn’t like the growth in the advertising budgets when I was (a member of Parliament) in Ottawa and said so then," he said.

NDP House Leader Andrew Swan defended the signs, saying taxpayers want to be informed about infrastructure spending.

"We know that putting up signs and letting people know where their money is being invested is a good thing to do," he said in response to Pallister’s criticisms.

He charged that a Conservative government would cut jobs and services, including infrastructure spending.

Swan also said Manitoba has one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest labour force participation rates in Canada.

Asked how much the ‘Steady Growth, Good Jobs’ construction signs cost, a provincial government spokesman said he would look into it.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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