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Second Session, Thirty-Ninth Legislature

This version is based on the printed bill that was distributed in the Legislature after First Reading.   It is not the official version.   If accuracy is critical, you can obtain a copy of the printed bill from Statutory Publications or view the online bilingual version (PDF).

Bill 234

THE ENDING GOVERNMENT SPENDING ON PARTISAN ADVERTISING ACT


Table of Contents Explanatory Note

(Assented to                                         )

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

Definitions

1(1)        The following definitions apply in this Act.

"Auditor General" means the Auditor General of Manitoba appointed under The Auditor General Act. (« vérificateur général »)

"governing party" means the political party whose members form the government that produced the advertising that is the subject of a request or complaint under section 4. (« parti au pouvoir »)

"government advertising" means a communication that

(a) is funded by the Government of Manitoba; and

(b) publicizes a policy, product, service or activity of the Government of Manitoba. (« publicité gouvernementale »)

Advertising costs

1(2)        In this Act, a reference to the cost of advertising means the total amount paid by the Crown to any person or entity outside the public service in respect of the advertising.

Application

2           This Act applies with respect to advertising that is distributed or broadcast on behalf of the Crown by a person or entity outside the public service.

Advertising standards

3           Government advertising must meet the following standards:

1.  The advertising must be a reasonable means to achieve one or more of the following purposes:

(a) to inform the public of services available to them;

(b) to inform the public of their rights and responsibilities under the law;

(c) to encourage or discourage specific social behaviour, in the public interest.

2.  The advertising must not include the name, voice or image of a member of the Executive Council or a member of the Legislative Assembly.

3.  The advertising must not promote or tend to promote political interests, values or beliefs that are commonly associated with the governing party.

4.  The advertising must not have as a significant objective

(a) fostering in the public a positive impression of the government; or

(b) fostering in the public a negative impression of a person or entity that is critical of the government.

5.  The advertising must include a prominent notice stating that the advertising is "Paid for by the taxpayers of Manitoba", and stating the total cost of the advertising campaign of which the advertising is a part.

6.  The advertising must meet such other standards as are set out in the regulations made under this Act.

Request to Auditor General

4(1)        A member of the Executive Council may request the Auditor General to decide if specified government advertising not yet made public meets the standards set out in this Act.

Inquiry

4(2)        The Auditor General must conduct an inquiry after receiving a request under subsection (1).

Decision and reasons

4(3)        At the conclusion of the inquiry, the Auditor General must give his or her decision, with reasons, to the member of the Executive Council who made the request.

Decision final

4(4)        Subject to subsection (5), the Auditor General's decision is final and conclusive.

Further inquiry

4(5)        If a complaint to the Auditor General under section 5 concerns advertising about which the Auditor General has given a decision under this section, the Auditor General may hold an inquiry under section 5 in response to the complaint only if

(a) the Auditor General decided that the advertising did not meet the standards set out in this Act; and

(b) the government made the advertising public.

Complaint to Auditor General

5(1)        A member of the Legislative Assembly may make a written complaint to the Auditor General that government advertising specified in the complaint does not meet the standards set out in this Act.

Basis for complaint

5(2)        The member must state in the complaint which of the standards set out in section 3 the member believes were not met, and the reasons why.

Inquiry

5(3)         Subject to subsection (4), the Auditor General must conduct an inquiry after receiving a complaint under this section.

Refusal to conduct inquiry

5(4)        If the Auditor General is of the opinion that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith, or that there are no grounds or insufficient grounds for an inquiry, the Auditor General must decide not to conduct an inquiry and must give his or her decision, with reasons, to the member.

Hearing

5(5)        If the Auditor General conducts an inquiry based on a complaint that the standards set out in item 2, 3 or 4 of section 3 were not met, the Auditor General must hold a hearing.

Parties to an inquiry

5(6)        The parties to an inquiry referred to in subsection (5) are the member, the Crown, the governing party and any other person whom the Auditor General specifies.

Decision and reasons

5(7)        At the conclusion of the inquiry, the Auditor General must give his or her decision, with reasons, to the member, the other parties to the inquiry and the Speaker of the Assembly.

Reimbursement of costs

5(8)        If the Auditor General decides that advertising specified in a complaint does not meet the standards set out in item 2, 3 or 4 of section 3, the Auditor General may order the governing party to reimburse the Crown for the cost of the advertising that was the subject of the complaint.

Enforcement

5(9)        The Auditor General must file with the Court of Queen's Bench a copy of his or her decision under subsection (8), exclusive of the reasons for it, at which time the decision must be entered in the same way as a judgment of the court and is enforceable as such.

Decision final

5(10)       A decision of the Auditor General under this section is final and conclusive.

Evidence Act powers

6           The Auditor General has all the powers and protections of a commissioner under Part V of The Manitoba Evidence Act when conducting an inquiry under this Act.

Disclosure by Auditor General

7(1)        The Auditor General must not disclose to any person information disclosed to the Auditor General during an inquiry under section 4, or the Auditor General's decision and reasons in respect of that inquiry, except

(a)  with the consent of the member of the Executive Council who requested the decision;

(b) in a criminal proceeding, as required by law; or

(c) as provided in subsection (2).

Disclosure of prior decision

7(2)        If a member's complaint to the Auditor General under section 5 concerns advertising about which the Auditor General has given a decision under section 4, the Auditor General must give the decision, and reasons, to the member.

Annual review

8(1)        The Auditor General must review all government advertising after the close of each fiscal year and prepare a report based on that review.

Annual report

8(2)        The report referred to in subsection (1) must form a part of the annual report the Auditor General prepares for the Assembly under section 14 of The Auditor General Act.

Regulations

9           The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) establishing additional standards for the purpose of section 3;

(b) respecting any matter the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable to carry out the purposes of this Act.

C.C.S.M. reference

10          This Act may be referred to as chapter E111.5 of the Continuing Consolidation of the Statutes of Manitoba.

Coming into force

11          This Act comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.

Explanatory Note

This Bill establishes standards for government advertising, including requiring that it be in the public interest and be non-partisan. A member of Cabinet may ask the Auditor General to decide whether specified government advertising meets the standards before the advertising is made public. A member of the Assembly may make a complaint to the Auditor General that specified government advertising does not meet the standards. If the Auditor General decides after a complaint that the advertising does not meet the standards, the Auditor General may order the governing party to reimburse the Crown for the cost of the advertising.

The Bill requires the Auditor General to report annually to the Legislative Assembly on government advertising.