Manitoba Government agrees to release information about its “Spirited Energy” campaign.

Seems to me that the folks in Manitoba should be releasing the evaluation of their branding campaign, why would they want to keep it a secret???

The Manitoba government has finally agreed to release information about its Spirited Energy branding campaign after nearly a year.

The province said Tuesday it will soon reveal the results of focus group sessions convened to gauge the effectiveness of the $2.5 million advertising blitz promoting Manitoba as a good place in which to live and work.

The opposition has been asking for the data since last fall, hoping it will shed light on a campaign they say has been a waste of taxpayers money. The Tories’ access to information request was denied, so they appealed to Manitoba Ombudsman Irene Hamilton, who spent about four months trying to get the data so she could rule on what ought to be made public. Hamilton ruled two weeks ago that most of the data ought to be released, and she gave the province 15 days to respond.

A Government spokesman said the NDP would comply with Hamilton’s decree, likely before the end of the month.Tory tourism critic Leanne Rowat called the province’s stall tactics shameful. “They stonewalled us and they stonewalled the ombudsman,” said Rowat, who represents Minnedosa in the legislature. “It seems the only time we get any type of reaction is when they’re up against the wall.” The province and Hamilton must still dicker over exactly what will be released. The province argued the focus group data was “advice to government” which can be kept secret under the province’s freedom of information law, but Hamilton disagreed. The province also argued that the data could compromise the business interests of the company that organized the focus groups. Hamilton agreed, but suggested the province had applied the rule too broadly.

The province also backpedalled Tuesday on a promise made by Competitiveness Minister Jim Rondeau last week. In response to repeated requests by the Tories and the media for a full accounting of the campaign’s $2.5 million budget, including invoices for services rendered, Rondeau pledged to personally “make the numbers available” to the public.

Asked when those numbers might be forthcoming, Lemoine said the public will have to wait for the results of an audit, expected this fall. He said Rondeau will hand over all financial information to auditor general Carol Bellringer and it’s up to her to decide what to include in her report.

Canadian Press

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