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Provincial signs likened to 'election propaganda'

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives say these government signs are a waste of money.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives say these government signs are a waste of money.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives are up in arms over what they see as partisan political signs -- paid for by taxpayers -- popping up at Manitoba construction sites.

PC Leader Brian Pallister said the signs don't contain any useful information -- just a political slogan the Selinger government has used to brand its economic projects.

He said Thursday the signs, which read, "Steady Growth, Good Jobs," are a waste of money. He said the cash could be better spent fixing roads and building infrastructure.

"They're popping up everywhere. It's about a government trying to get credit for doing things with other people's money that it really hasn't done."

Pallister likened the signs to election propaganda and said they could be seen as a "false advertisement," since Manitoba has lower job creation numbers compared with other provinces.

Since 2009, he said, Manitoba has had the poorest gross domestic product growth west of Quebec, and its job growth is lower than any province except New Brunswick.

Asked how Manitoba's signs are different from federal Conservative signage touting "Canada's economic action plan," Pallister said he's not a big fan of any government using taxpayers' money to toot its own horn.

"I didn't like the growth in the advertising budgets when I was (a member of Parliament) in Ottawa and said so then," he said.

NDP House Leader Andrew Swan defended the signs, saying taxpayers want to be informed about infrastructure spending.

"We know that putting up signs and letting people know where their money is being invested is a good thing to do," he said.

He argued a Conservative government would cut jobs and services, including infrastructure spending.

Swan also said Manitoba has one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest labour- force participation rates in Canada.

The government couldn't immediately say how much the signs cost. A cabinet spokesman said he was collecting information from various government departments to compile a total.

"Unfortunately each individual department purchases signs depending on the project, so it's taking some time to pull together," he said in an email.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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