Filmon apologizes for vote-splitting scandal

Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon has apologized for the actions of Conservative Party members in the 1995 campaign, those who tried to influence the election results by splitting the vote in three ridings.

The Monin Inquiry has spent the past few months uncovering evidence and hearing from a long list of Conservative insiders connected with the scheme. On Thursday Filmon swallowed hard and tried to undo some of the damage.

He chose a small gathering of about 60 loyal Conservatives, but his message was directed at a far wider audience. "As leader and as premier, on behalf of the party and of the government, I offer an apology to you and to all Manitobans. Never again will anyone working on behalf of myself or the party feel they can engage in unethical behaviour."

Filmon also wanted to let Manitobans know whom they should hold responsible for the vote-splitting scheme, and for the cover-up. "Manitobans expect their government to reflect their own values of moral and ethical behaviour. Meeting that expectation has always been our goal. This happened on my watch and as leader and as premier I take ultimate responsibility."

Provincial NDP leader Gary Doer says it means little whether it was Filmon's promise to introduce new ethical guidelines for the party, or to implement all of the recommendations of the Monin Commission.

"He had his chance to take leadership in 1995. Even into the last day of the inquiry he was accusing us (NDP) of playing politics. The only person who's played politics all along with this was Mr. Filmon," said Doer.