My boss on our news desk got an innocuous call this morning from a staffer in the Selinger government’s media office. The staffer (who was also at the NDP’s 2015 vision launch yesterday) cheerfully offered us a tour of the new birthing centre in St. Vital.
That’s an obvious attempt to do an end run around the very election spending legislation the NDP overhauled with great fanfare a few years ago.
According to the Elections Finances Act, the government cannot "publish or advertise any information about its programs or activities" in the 90 days before an election. Since early July, there’s been a ban on press releases and ministerial appearances and the deluge of photo-ops we usually see from the province.
But there’s no ban on pitching happy-love stories to media outlets. By calling us up and offering a tour of the birthing centre, the NDP aren’t publishing or advertising. They’re getting the Freep (and CTV, who were also on the tour) to do it for them. Making matters worse, two NDP cabinet ministers – Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Education Minister Nancy Allan – were on the tour. Both represent south Winnipeg ridings the Tories are targeting.
A cheesy start to an election that technically hasn’t even begun.