Manitoba premier won't ask Melnick to quit caucus over lie
Former minister lying low after ombudsman's report
Premier Greg Selinger won't ask MLA Christine Melnick to leave the NDP caucus, despite knowing for more than a year that she misled the legislature.
A report by the provincial ombudsman found Melnick, then minister for immigration and multiculturalism, lied when she told the legislature last year she did not order a bureaucrat to invite immigrants and support workers to a debate on federal immigration policy.
That included asking Melnick himself whether she lied. Selinger said he did not ask her.
[Melnick's] mistake was done while she was a member of cabinet. She's no longer a member of cabinet.- Premier Greg Selinger
Selinger said Thursday he didn't want to take any action against Melnick until the investigation was complete.
"What we said to her was 'be completely transparent and open with the ombudsman and give him the exact role that you played,' and she gave that to him in writing," he said Thursday. "Our job is to let the ombudsman do his job. The surprise was, his job took 18 months, so there is a time lag in there which raises questions."
Selinger said Melnick has since apologized and will correct the record when the house resumes sitting.
He said there is no need for her to leave caucus.
"Her error, her mistake was done while she was a member of cabinet. She's no longer a member of cabinet," he said.
Selinger said he doesn't think he, as premier, needs to apologize to Manitobans for the actions of a minister in his cabinet.
"I think people need to know that we we're trying to do the best job for them, and I want them to know that we've taken that seriously," he said. "We've got a re-set on cabinet according to their priorities, with people that are ready to do the job."
Selinger said the ombudsman's report described the relationship between senior civil servants and elected politicians as complex, and noted he called for additional guidelines so the lines aren't crossed.
The opposition Progressive Conservatives have called for an inquiry and say Selinger should have acted much sooner.
CBC has made a number of requests to speak to Christine Melnick.
She has not responded or released any comments.