New questions highlight pattern of NDP ethical violations

Lawsuit against Selinger may shed light on evolving NDP ‘Hydro jobs for votes’ scandal: Goertzen

A just-filed lawsuit alleges that Greg Selinger released highly sensitive financial and business information to benefit a third party in December 2015. This was the same month the NDP “Hydro jobs for votes” scandal became public, and the same third party remains a key witness in the ongoing Commissioner of Elections investigation into the scandal.

“From Tiger Dams, to political payouts to former staff, to the ‘Hydro jobs for votes’ scandal, the Selinger NDP have failed to come clean with Manitobans about ethical breaches that are as numerous as they are concerning,” said Kelvin Goertzen, PC candidate for Steinbach. “Questions remain about NDP ethical violations and Manitobans deserve answers before going to the polls on Tuesday.”

After the alleged disclosure by Selinger and within hours of first becoming aware of the investigation into the “Hydro jobs for votes” scandal, the NDP miraculously produced a letter they claimed completely exonerated them. This second letter, reportedly from the same third party/key witness, inexplicably blames an “overzealous staffer” for shocking statements made in the original April 2015 letter that created the scandal in the first place. Yet the original statements from the actual witness were also repeated and supported in a December 2015 one-on-one telephone interview with CBC.

“This bizarre and troubling series of events goes beyond simple coincidence,” added Goertzen. “It’s up to Selinger to come clean on his personal involvement in the NDP ‘Hydro jobs for votes’ scandal and related cover-up.”

In the December 2015 telephone interview with CBC, the key witness in the NDP “Hydro jobs for votes” scandal is quoted stating, “I still communicate with Selinger, but it’s still unfinished business.”

How exactly has Selinger been taking care of “unfinished business” involving Manitoba tax and ratepayer dollars in the lead-up to this election? Manitobans have a right to know.

 

 

BACKGROUNDER

Record of Selinger NDP ethical violations: a clear pattern 

NDP PST hike

  • “Ridiculous idea that we're going to raise the sales tax. That's total nonsense. Everybody knows that.” Greg Selinger, September 2011.

 

NDP mislead Manitobans about 9% PST

  • “The Canadian Press has learned that the Manitoba government analyzed a higher sales tax increase than the one it brought in last year — a revelation that contradicts what the finance minister told the news agency last fall. A report by the provincial ombudsman's office shows that the finance department prepared two documents that analyzed revenue options that included a nine per cent retail sales tax (RST) before settling on eight per cent — an increase of one per cent.” (Manitoba NDP pondered 9 per cent PST, documents show)
  • “The Selinger government has been knowingly withholding the truth from Manitobans on so many fronts these days, another lie from a minister of the Crown seems par for the course. Struthers' latest lie centres around the NDP's decision to raise the PST to 8%. We know they promised Manitoba voters in 2011 they wouldn't raise the tax and then did. We also know they eliminated, with one stroke of the pen, taxpayers' legal right to vote on the tax hike. And now we find out Struthers lied about the possibility of raising the tax to 9%.”

    “We now know that was a lie because revelations from the Manitoba Ombudsman's office show there were two reports that went to cabinet that contemplated a 9% PST hike.” (Hard to believe anything NDP says anymore: Brodbeck).

 

Secrecy continues on $670K in departure tax payouts

  • “The ‘advisable’ payouts that followed appear to be well above the legal minimum. For example, former chief of staff Liam Martin worked 2.5 years at his post and was paid $146,000 in severance.  Provincial labour laws call for a minimum of two weeks pay per year worked. Selinger declined to reveal the payout per person, if any staff were fired, or if negotiations were used to avoid a wrongful dismissal suit. For all of the above matters, he cited confidentiality concerns over "mutual separation agreements." ($670K payouts 'advisable': Selinger)

 

Rally Gate cover-up: Melnick directed by Selinger senior political staff

  • “There were several missed opportunities to explain the circumstances that caused an assistant deputy minister in the Department of Immigration to distribute a controversial email inviting civil servants and various stakeholders to a debate in the legislature in April 2012. 

    The email sparked an investigation by the Manitoba Ombudsman following a complaint the civil servant had acted in a partisan manner, either on his own initiative, or at the urging of the immigration minister at the time, Christine Melnick. The various issues became immensely more complicated when Ms. Melnick initially denied instructing the civil servant, Ben Rempel, to distribute the email. Shortly after the ombudsman began his investigation, however, the minister admitted she had directed Mr. Rempel to send the email.  

    Mr. Selinger was also informed of the deceit, but it remained a secret until the ombudsman's report was tabled last December, some 16 months after the incident. The premier should have disclosed the new information immediately or ordered Ms. Melnick to do so, rather than waiting for the report to be released. Not only had the public been deceived, Ms. Melnick had also misled the legislature in denying her personal role, a breach of the Legislative Assembly Act. And during this entire period, Mr. Rempel was hung out to dry and left to listen silently as the opposition questioned his judgment and ethics. 

    Mr. Selinger had a duty to remove that stain as quickly as possible and he has no excuse for not doing so. Ms. Melnick has since further confused matters by claiming she was directed by NDP political staff to order Mr. Rempel to rally support for the government's motion on immigration.” (Selinger's failing festers)

 

Rally Gate cover-up: “no plausible explanation” and damning evidence withheld

  • “A report from Manitoba's ombudsman says there is no plausible explanation as to why a revealing government document — one that contradicted the official government position at the time — was withheld from the media and the Opposition Progressive Conservatives. 

    The report released Wednesday delves into an April 2012 immigration debate at the legislature that stirred up controversy because the government used civil servants to gather supporters to sit in the public gallery. For more than a year, then-immigration minister Christine Melnick denied being behind the plan and said a top civil servant made the decision on his own. 

    Freedom-of-information requests filed at the time by The Canadian Press, two other media outlets and the Tories revealed many civil servants were involved. But among the dozens of documents that were released, there was no link to the minister. It was only revealed late last year that Melnick did indeed give the order." (Damning emails withheld from media, opposition: Manitoba ombudsman)

 

Tiger Dams: $9M in untendered contracts

  • “Last year, a whistleblower alleged that Ashton's department committed to giving a $5-million untendered contract for the purchase of Tiger Dams. The only company in Manitoba that sells Tiger Dams is controlled by Winnipeg businessman Peter Ginakes, who has contributed to Ashton's electoral campaigns in previous years. Brian Pallister Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says his staff recently uncovered nine more untendered Tiger Dam contracts, totalling $8.7 million, that were issued between 2009 and 2014. Under the Financial Administration Act, the government is supposed to disclose all untendered contracts into a public database within 30 days. However, Pallister said that disclosure was not made until Aug. 28 (2015). The nine contracts in question were also connected to "the sole supplier for Tiger Dams in Manitoba," he said. Pallister said it was only a result of his party's questions that the government has finally made the information publicly available — after, he said, it was caught breaking disclosure rules.” (Manitoba NDP tried to keep $9M in untendered contracts under wraps, Tories say)

 

Tiger Dams: attempt to force through additional $5M untendered contract

  • “Mr. Ashton himself says he makes no apology for what he did, directing his senior departmental staff to write a submission for Treasury Board approval in 2014 to buy the water-filled barriers from a company without competing bids. The department itself was opposed to it for a whole bunch of reasons, according to a review by the ombudsman’s office.” 

    “Mr. Ashton, who had once appeared at a public promotion of the Tiger Dam with distributor (friend, donor) Peter Ginakes at the restaurateur’s own Pony Corral, insisted in the legislature the job went untendered because it was an emergency, the waters were rising again and people’s homes and livelihoods were at stake. "We have to deal with real-time flood situations, which we did." That was fallacy. There was no justification to set aside procurement rules, according to the ombudsman’s review.” 

    “Flat out, what Mr. Ashton did was conduct unbecoming of a minister of the Crown. He is unworthy of public trust. His actions were never reviewed under a code of conduct for MLAs and ministers. But the smell of betrayal — of his duties to his office, his departmental staff and the taxpayer — is sickening. He is unworthy of office. And yet he sits there, in the front bench. In fact, he was reappointed by the premier after resigning temporarily in late 2014 to run for Mr. Selinger’s job. Is there any better illustration of the desperate straits Mr. Selinger finds himself in, following a cabinet revolt in fall 2014 — precipitated in part by this affair?“ (Tiger Dam deal has a lingering stench)

 

Not-for-profit clawback

  • “Pallister said the NDP demanded a clawback of 4% of the total contracted budgets for 2014-15 from about 122 organizations by Dec. 15, 2014, for a total of about $566,000, according to an email dated Nov. 28, 2014 that the Progressive Conservatives obtained.”…”The clawback request came just months before the NDP released its 2015 budget, which projected a $422-million summary deficit and $207 million in overspending on core government departments over the previous year. Premier Greg Selinger announced in April that plans to balance the budget, which has been in deficit since 2009, have now been pushed back another two years, to the 2018/19 fiscal year — a decision that has been soundly criticized by Pallister, amongst others.” (NDP asked non-profits for money back)

 

NDP phony expenses: Selinger demands letter to avoid responsibility

  • “Mr. Selinger knew about the plan concocted by the NDP to claim phony expenses that their election campaigns never had. Because of these phony expenses, an unlawful rebate of $70,000 went directly into the bank accounts of the NDP. What did Selinger do? Nothing - he just hoped no one would notice, but he knew it was wrong because he demanded a letter from the NDP to try to get out of it!” (Why Selinger is a poor choice for premier)

 

Crocus: told of problems but allowed thousands to lose life savings

  • “As Finance Minister, Greg Selinger knew the Crocus Investment Fund had problems at least four years before it collapsed. In 2003, he told his cabinet colleagues "virtually no money will be available for new investments" but he said nothing to the rest of Manitoba. As a result, more than 30,000 Manitobans lost their hard-earned savings and retirement funds.” (Why Selinger is a poor choice for premier).
  • “A retired Manitoba government bureaucrat says he told then-finance minister Greg Selinger about problems at the troubled Crocus Investment Fund about four years before the government did anything about it.” (Crocus Fund ex-bureaucrat speaks out for 1st time)