Billboards promoting PST cut pop up around Winnipeg, most in Liberal and NDP ridings, sparking debate

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WATCH: Billboards have popped up in several areas of the city, raising questions about the government spends taxpayer dollars – Apr 5, 2019

You may have driven or walked by one of the billboards boasting the Progressive Conservative campaign promise to decrease the PST.

In the government’s 2019 budget, the change is coming for July 1.

Global News obtained the list of where these billboards were being placed and mapped them out.

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The map shows the upcoming electoral boundaries colour-coded by each political party that’s currently in power in each riding.

The purple stars mark static billboards while the red stars indicate where there are electronic billboards with the PST decreasing message.

The majority of the billboards are in NDP and Liberal ridings, sparking a debate among voters.

“It’s just a tactic for votes and they’re going to play the game the way they’re going to play,” undecided voter Donovan Yaciuk said. “It’s a little dirty.”

READ MORE: Manitoba’s PST to be cut back to 7% on July 1

The province says the placement of the billboards was based on available space, not politics.

When asked for an on-camera interview, the province denied our request instead releasing a statement saying “Reducing the PST to 7 per cent is an action of government that may impact the purchasing decisions of Manitobans. We think it’s important to inform Manitobans the provincial government is keeping its promise.”

The entire PST awareness campaign cost $173,000 for all their advertising including radio, print, online and the billboards.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew questioned the government’s use of public money.

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“The Premier is using public taxpayer dollars to pay for what is clearly his election message. We know this is what he’s going to campaign on. He’s using public money to do it. That’s the big concern,” he said.

READ MORE: Deficit $51M lower than expected in Manitoba, higher revenues from corporate taxes

Political Scientists like Christopher Adams from St. Paul’s College say the billboards may be the sign of an early election.

“They’re doing their fundraising and they’re trying to get their messages out. The advantage for the governing party is they have the government so they can make statements about what the government is doing,” he said.

The government has to have their election before Oct. 6, 2020.