NDP Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson produced a letter Thursday he says shows he is innocent of any wrongdoing with regards to an alleged agreement with Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN).
- Manitoba aboriginal affairs minister denies promise of Hydro work in exchange for supporting premier
- Eric Robinson says elections watchdog probe into alleged deal will exonerate him
Manitoba's elections watchdog is currently investigating whether Robinson and OCN Chief Michael Constant struck a deal wherein Robinson would secure jobs on Hydro Manitoba's Bipole III Transmission Line project for the First Nation in return for political support for Premier Greg Selinger.
The alleged deal came to light in after a letter dated April 21, 2015 surfaced from Constant accusing Robinson of failing to fulfil his end of the bargain when no jobs were awarded to the band.
Robinson denies any such deal was made and presented a letter dated Feb. 24, 2016, written by Chief Constant, which Robinson says fully exonerates him.
Constant's letter states "overzealous staff members" were responsible for the 2015 letter sent to Robinson and he was "not given the opportunity to peruse this letter before it went out."
"For the record, Minister Robinson did not promise work on Bi-Pole III in exchange for the community's support in Premier Selinger's leadership bid for the NDP party leader or for NDP support in the upcoming election," wrote Constant.
Robinson said Constant left a voicemail message for him "in the last couple months" that apologized for any inconvenience his 2015 letter caused.
"I believe that the chief is an honourable and honest leader of his people and I respect him a great deal," said Robinson.
The NDP minister added he expects the conclusion of the commissioner's investigation will confirm no improper agreement was made.
Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister, however, questioned why Constant is changing his story now and whether Manitobans will know the full story before they head to the polls April 19.
"I don't know if the government is going to be very forthcoming ... this close to the election," said Pallister.
CBC's calls to Chief Constant were not returned.
Read full letter from Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Chief Michael Constant:
Read full letter from Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Chief Michael Constant: (PDF KB)
Read full letter from Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Chief Michael Constant: (Text KB)