Manitoba PC may call on election watchdog to investigate alleged NDP deal
Tory Kelvin Goertzen says Commissioner of Elections may investigate if minister Eric Robinson broke the law
Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives say they may ask the elections watchdog to investigate an alleged deal between a Manitoba chief and NDP minister Eric Robinson.
The chief of Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) says aboriginal and northern affairs minister Eric Robinson asked his band to support Premier Greg Selinger in the election, in exchange for support for a Bipole III contract.
It does certainly cast a very deep and wide ethical cloud over the government.- PC MLA Kelvin Goertzen
OCN Chief Michael Constant made the allegations in a letter he sent Robinson in April. Robinson denies the deal was made and says Constant was motivated by the fact that his bid on the more than $300 million contract had failed.
PC MLA Kelvin Goertzen said the allegations are "disturbing".
"I don't think it's enough to simply have a denial," Goertzen said. "We know that there were other people in the room who were saying exactly the opposite. So clearly something happened that people aren't agreeing upon and it might take a further investigation to determine exactly what happened and to see whether or not there were breaches of elections laws but it does certainly cast a very deep and wide ethical cloud over the government."
Goertzen said Robinson may have breached section 178 of The Elections Act which states "a person who, directly or indirectly, offers a bribe to induce or influence another person" to vote for a particular candidate is guilty of an offence.
The PCs say they want to review the case more before submitting a formal request for Manitoba's Commissioner of Elections to investigate.
Commissioner Bill Bowles said he doesn't confirm whether his office receives complaints or whether investigations are underway.
Pattern of 'dirty tricks', says Tory
Goertzen said the alleged February 19 deal came during a time when Selinger and his supporters were trying to secure as much support as possible for the March 8 NDP leadership election.
Robinson supported Selinger in the race that the premier called after a revolt from NDP cabinet ministers who questioned his ability to lead the NDP.
Goertzen pointed to an allegation from around that time when Selinger supporter Rosann Wowchuk was accused of voter interference and intimidation in Swan River.
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"So we know that the dirty tricks happened, but this brings it, of course, to a different level because it brings in the possibility that taxpayers dollars were involved in that," Goertzen said. "It also brings in the possibility that there were breaches to the elections act which is very clear; you can't offer an inducement to someone for their support."