Pre-election blackout slated for Wednesday as Tories hold announcement blitz
Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government announced a flurry of initiatives Monday, totalling tens of millions of dollars, in advance of a pre-election blackout on advertising and promotion.
Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires has announced $11.8 million in subsidies – jointly funded by the federal government – for the trucking industry to adopt energy-saving devices.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen has disclosed $2.7 million in annual funding for additional addictions treatment, including 16 new beds at treatment centres.
Families Minister Heather Stefanson is touting more than $2.6 million raised through a social impact bond for a program that connects at-risk Indigenous mothers with birth helpers.
The Manitoba government is also investing over $15 million in significant repairs and restoration of the Centennial Concert Hall, Crowns Services Minister Colleen Mayer announced Monday.
The province also pledged $240,000 annually for research and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
“As human cases of Lyme disease increase in Manitoba and across the country, our government is committed to remaining at the forefront of tick-borne disease research, response and advocate engagement,” Friesen said in a written statement.
The government announcements come before a pre-election blackout that Premier Brian Pallister said last week was imminent. Pallister left last Tuesday for a trip to Europe that is expected to last 12 days.
An email to civil servants obtained by The Canadian Press shows that the government plans to institute its blackout starting Wednesday. The email did not specify an election date.
Under provincial law, Manitoba governments cannot promote activities or programs in the 90 days before a fixed election date, or up to 35 days in the case of an early election. The move is aimed at preventing the governing party from having a communications advantage over other parties.
The next election is scheduled for Oct. 6, 2020 but Pallister has repeatedly indicated he is looking at calling the vote this summer or fall. He has also said that even with an early vote, he would abide by the spirit of the 90-day blackout requirement.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Monday the multitude of announcements are a signal.
“This is a clear sign that Pallister is setting the stage for a media blackout this week,” Lamont said in a written statement.
“My guess is that if he calls the blackout on Wednesday, Manitobans will likely head to the polls mid-September.”
WATCH: Pallister has ‘no plans to call an immediate election’
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