Manitoba

Manitoba Tory election ad did not break campaign law: elections commissioner

Manitoba's elections commissioner says the governing Progressive Conservatives did not violate campaign rules when they filmed part of an ad inside the premier's office.

Opposition NDP allegations rejected by elections commissioner Bill Bowles

Manitoba elections commissioner Bill Bowles rejected NDP allegations that a Progressive Conservative ad from the 2019 election campaign, which included a shot of then-premier Brian Pallister's office, did not break campaign law. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba's elections commissioner says the governing Progressive Conservatives did not violate campaign rules when they filmed part of an ad inside the premier's office.

The complaint came from the Opposition New Democrats and concerned an ad during the 2019 provincial election.

The ad showed then-premier Brian Pallister talking to people at various locations, including a brief portion where he was shown in his office with some fellow Tories.

The New Democrats said the use of the premier's office violated a ban on using government resources in advertisements leading up to an election period.

The NDP also said the use of the office was an improper contribution to a campaign.

Elections commissioner Bill Bowles rejected both allegations and said the shot of the premier's office was a brief look at Pallister with a wall near him.

"The whole scene lasts less than two seconds and, unless the viewer is watching carefully, might be missed altogether," Bowles wrote in his letter to NDP headquarters and a lawyer for Pallister.

Pallister did donate to the campaign by allowing his office wall to be shown, but did the same by allowing family photos to be used in the ad, Bowles wrote.

"I note that the purpose of the advertising and contribution limits in the [Election Financing Act] is to ensure a reasonably level playing field between the parties and candidates in an election," he said. "None of these donations ... can reasonably be seen to have given the PC party or any of its candidates an unfair advantage.

"Childhood pictures, a car, an office wall, etc., are all the type of assets to which other candidates likely have access."

The Tories won a second consecutive majority in the 2019 election, which Pallister called a year ahead of the scheduled date. He stepped down as premier last month.

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