Manitoba politicians to vote on Christine Melnick inquiry
Manitoba politicians will vote on opposition push for inquiry into minister
Manitoba politicians will vote next month on an opposition push for an inquiry into former NDP cabinet minister Christine Melnick.
Tory house leader Kelvin Goertzen gave notice Wednesday that he will introduce a motion after next week's spring break to have a legislature committee set up to conduct the probe.
The committee, which would have people testify under oath, would determine whether Melnick or Premier Greg Selinger is telling the truth about a controversial immigration debate in April 2012 that was criticized by the ombudsman.
"Somebody's lying. I won't presume to say who," Goertzen said.
"(An inquiry) would be better for the legislature in the long run because at least we'll have transparency and some assurance that honest answers are given when there are questions in the legislature."
The inquiry is unlikely to occur, however. The NDP government has a solid majority with 36 of 57 seats. Government house leader Andrew Swan said there are more important issues than an inquiry.
"We're focused on important things. We're focused on rolling out our $5.5-billion infrastructure plan. We're focused on jobs and the economy," Swan said.
Melnick, who spent a decade in the NDP cabinet, was removed from caucus by Premier Greg Selinger last month after contradicting him about who was behind a controversial immigration event.
Melnick initially denied ordering civil servants to invite government-funded immigrant service agency workers to watch a legislature debate on April 19, 2012, even if it meant taking the afternoon off work.
Last December, the provincial ombudsman revealed Melnick was indeed behind the plan, and said the use of civil servants raised questions about partisanship in the bureaucracy.
Selinger said he and his staff were involved in planning the debate, but had no part in using civil servants to invite people.
Melnick broke ranks in February. She said Selinger's staff were involved from the start and had told her she would have to take the blame to protect the premier. She was turfed from caucus the following day.
The Tories say an inquiry is needed to find out who is telling the truth, and whether the premier has been misleading the legislature.