Pallister government to axe civilian oversight board of Crown corporations

​The Pallister government plans to replace a civilian board tasked with overseeing Manitoba's crown corporations with bureaucrats.

Civilian board wasn't doing its job says minister responsible for Crown corporations Ron Schuler

Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government says changes to Crown corporations such as Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries and Manitoba Public Insurance will save money and make them more accountable. (CBC)

The Pallister government plans to replace a civilian board tasked with overseeing Manitoba's crown corporations with bureaucrats. 

The Progressive Conservatives said Monday they will introduce legislation later this year scrapping the Crown Corporations Council.

The eight-member panel includes the dean of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, a chartered accountant and a representative from consumer associations and others who have "demonstrated management or technical expertise" according to the council's website.

The bureaucrats replacing them will be the council's own staff.

Ron Schuler, the minister responsible for Crown corporations, says the civilian board wasn't doing its job.

"Unfortunately what happened with the corporation as exists right now is the oversight wasn't taking place. There was a lot of political interference from this legislature into the Crown corporations," he said.

Schuler pointed to the previous NDP government's directing Manitoba Hydro to build its new transmission line down the west side of the province, away from the boreal forest on the east side the province had hoped would be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Schuler said overhauling how Crown corporations operate will make them more accountable and that maintaining the status quo would leave them vulnerable to more interference.

Direct civilian oversight of Manitoba Public Insurance Liquor and Lotteries and Manitoba Hydro will continue, he said, in the government-appointed boards of each crown corporation.

"There will be a lot of civilian oversight. It's just sort of removing one layer of it that really wasn't as effective as it should have been," he said, adding that the move will save perhaps a third of the $900,000 it cost to run the council.

The changes will affect Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Manitoba Public Insurance and the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation, and will clearly spell out responsibilities and liabilities as well as eliminate overlap and duplication within government, the government said.

with files from The Canadian Press