Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Secrecy Laws, Which Vary by Province, Shield Manitoba's Advertising Slogan

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Secrecy Laws, Which Vary by Province, Shield Manitoba's Advertising Slogan

Article excerpt

Secrecy laws shield government ad slogan

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WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government has spent public money conducting opinion polls and focus groups on its Steady Growth, Good Jobs advertising campaign, but the results are being kept secret under the province's freedom of information law.

The data might be publicly available in other provinces, because the laws that dictate what governments can keep private vary from one jurisdiction to another.

In Manitoba, virtually any document prepared for the provincial cabinet must be shielded from the public view. That includes background information such as a 2013 document in which the government tested the Steady Growth, Good Jobs slogan on a select group of people before adopting it.

"The record was prepared to be discussed and/or presented to a committee of cabinet and relates to the formulation of government policy and as such is protected," reads a response from the Finance Department to a freedom of information request from The Canadian Press.

Similarly, a report from focus-group testing earlier this year on the government's economic agenda is being kept secret. In both cases, the government cited a section of provincial law that blocks the release of any record prepared for a minister about a matter that is to be discussed in cabinet.

There are similar laws in provinces such as Saskatchewan. But in other areas, including Alberta and Nova Scotia, only recommendations to cabinet are blocked.

The Steady Growth, Good Jobs slogan was adopted as a way of selling the government's one-point increase to the provincial sales tax and the beefed-up infrastructure program that much of the money is going toward. At construction sites, signs with the slogan sit next to federal government ones that bear the phrase "Canada's Economic Action Plan. …

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