Nunavut government restricts communications in election

Heading into the territorial election on October 28th, the Nunavut government says it's cracking down on what information gets released and how questions from media will be dealt with in the lead-up to election day.
The government is limiting the amount of information it releases during the election campaign. 1:52

Heading into the territorial election on October 28th, the Government of Nunavut government says it's cracking down on what information gets released and how questions from media will be dealt with in the lead-up to election day.

The territorial government says it's a matter of being fair to all candidates.

The GN outlined the new rules in a news release. "Advertising new government programs, announcements, meetings and policies will stop," it says. "No minister messages will be released [and] no new promotional material will be posted on the GN website – for example, new program announcements are not allowed."

With regards to the requests for information from the media, the statement says that "departmental spokespeople should not contact media, unless there is an emergency" and "If the media contacts a departmental spokesperson, they should reply and give only technical or factual program information."

The release goes on to say, however, that government departments will respond as usual to public requests for general 
information.

"It's really important that the Government of Nunavut remain neutral and impartial during an election," government spokesperson Pam Coulter says."We can't be seen to favour one candidate over another by making announcements or doing interviews."

Government officials staying out of the limelight is nothing new during election campaigns. Similar policies are in place in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

But that doesn't mean everybody supports the plan. Long-time Iqaluit politician HunterTootoo says government should always be available to explain what they're doing.

"They're still operating their current programs with public funding," he says. "And if things are going on, then people have a right to know. I've always been about openness and transparency."

The government says they're not intentionally muzzling the media, but so far in the campaign, it's been a challenge  trying to get any kind of information from the Nunavut Government.

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