Premier Heather Stefanson said there will be "consequences" for whoever is responsible for leaking the entire throne speech document the day before it was presented in the Manitoba legislature.

Premier Heather Stefanson said there will be "consequences" for whoever is responsible for leaking the entire throne speech document the day before it was presented in the Manitoba legislature.

While the 11-page document that sets out in broad terms the government's agenda for the coming year contained no surprises, the fact it was leaked has sparked an investigation.

"This is entirely unacceptable," Stefanson said at a news conference Tuesday. "We are investigating right now. We will get to the bottom of this and there will be consequences and actions taken."

"The leak of a document ‐ one that will be delivered by the lieutenant governor ‐ is an irresponsible act and one that would result in the termination of employment for any person found responsible." – Sean Kavanagh

She wouldn't specify what those actions may be: "We will see."

CBC news reported receiving the document Monday evening without identifying the source.

"The leak of a document — one that will be delivered by the lieutenant governor — is an irresponsible act and one that would result in the termination of employment for any person found responsible," Stefanson's chief of communications, Sean Kavanagh, said in an email to the Free Press.

"The executive council is taking steps to determine who is responsible."

"Budget speeches are prepared in strict secrecy because premature release can affect financial markets." –Paul Thomas

NDP house leader Nahanni Fontaine said Stefanson needs to find out who is trying to "undermine" her leadership.

"I think it's a sad commentary that in the premier's very first throne speech, somebody within her circle leaked what is actually an important document," said Fontaine, the NDP justice critic.

"It's the blueprint or framework for how she plans to take things forward. It's problematic," she said. "She needs to figure out who is leaking her documents and who is undermining her."

The throne speech and other official government documents such as the budget are often given to reporters in advance under embargo. Reporters have to sign a document promising not to share the contents with anyone before they're presented to the public — by the lieutenant governor if it's a throne speech or the finance minister if it's a budget.

Government officials may tip a reporter off about something to expect in the throne speech but leaking an entire document is unprecedented, veteran political analyst Paul Thomas said Tuesday.

"Governments have been known to signal their intentions by selectively leaking some of the themes and issues to be addressed in a throne speech. However, leaking the full document is not something that I remember happening previously," the University of Manitoba political studies professor emeritus said.

"The fact that so many people within government can be involved with throne speech preparation means that a leak could come from a number of locations.

"Budget speeches are prepared in strict secrecy because premature release can affect financial markets," he said, noting there have been "inadvertent leaks."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.