The PC Party of Manitoba says the NDP government tried to stop a media outlet from reporting an unflattering story regarding the pending PST increase.
At a news conference on Wednesday, PC leader Brian Pallister said a NDP communicator contacted CJSB-FM in Swan River to try and kill a story by saying the taxation department official who the station did an interview with earlier in the day was an impostor.
“This is a blatant attempt to deceive the media. When one of the government’s 192 communicators calls a radio station and tries to manipulate them all Manitobans lose,” Pallister said.
In the call, a communicator named Sally stumbles trying to explain that the interview may have not been a legitimate one.
“This is about suppression,” Pallister added. “Suppressing a story. And I have to say, that is totally unacceptable. No democratic government has the right to attempt to muzzle the media. This is a government that will go to any lengths to keep in power.”
The matter was resolved when cabinet communications determined that the interview was conducted with the proper official in the first place.
Listen to the call below:
Cabinet spokesperson Matt Williamson said in an e-mail follow-up that the PC’s side of the story is “inaccurate and the accusation is baseless.”
“On Friday afternoon a media request was received from CJ104 radio requesting a response to a conversation the radio station had with a Manitoba Finance official. The finance official in question advised that he had not spoken with any media,” Williamson said.
“As the finance official had no knowledge of having spoken with a journalist, Cabinet Communications staff contacted the radio station and requested that the story not air as the authenticity of the conversation was in question.”
The NDP says a radio station reporter contacted the tax branch directly and did not identify himself as a journalist or advise the other party they were being recorded.
“Once it was determined that the reporter had indeed spoken with the tax department, a response to the request was sent by Cabinet Communications.”