Manitoba Tories take page out of Trudeau's playbook by releasing mandate letters

The marching orders Brian Pallister has given his cabinet ministers are public.

Ministerial to-do list includes missive to keep Manitoba Hydro public

Premier Brian Pallister's PC government posted the ministers' mandate letters on Thursday. (CBC)

The marching orders Brian Pallister has given his cabinet ministers are public. The government posted the ministers's mandate letters Thursday. 

It's the same thing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did last year when he released his ministers's mandate letters, sparking public discussion on the government's direction.

"The purpose of the mandate letters is to give, clearly, direction to our new cabinet ministers in terms of some of the key priority areas and ... it's also our intent to be open in our operations and to make sure that Manitobans have the chance to understand what some of the key priority areas are," Pallister said, adding he's taking his cue from what he heard during the election campaign that put him in the premier's office.

"We put extensive effort into designing our Policy Blueprint. We've had the input of people from all across the province. Thousands of Manitobans participated in that process and frankly what you're getting here is a bit of a condensed version of a number of suggestions ... many of which in fact have come from Manitobans to us."

Some tidbits in the letters include a directive to Ron Schuler, the minister responsible for Crown Services, not to tinker with Manitoba Hydro.

"Above all else, keep Manitoba's largest Crown corporation, Manitoba Hydro, publicly owned."

After the Progressive Conservative government of Gary Filmon privatized MTS in the 1990s, the NDP's perennial warning has been that the Tories would privatize the power utility.

Reporters pointed out that Manitoba Public Insurance, another Crown agency, is not specifically mentioned in Schuler's mandate letter. Pallister said his government intends to keep MPI public. 

"Yes, that's fully the intention," he said. 

The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, arguably of critical importance to this province, is not mentioned in the mandate letter to Manitoba's new Minister of Indigenous and Municipal Relations Eileen Clarke.

The government is signaling a new era of openness, according to the mandate letter for Attorney General Heather Stefanson. The first thing on her to-do list?

"Bring in Manitoba's first open government bill which will establish new, higher standards for transparency, accountability and MLA ethics, open contracting procedures, and give real authority to independent Legislative officers to investigate and report."