Manitoba Treasury Board secretary Paul Beauregard resigns, government spokesperson confirms
Former MTS exec had been accused by NDP of interfering in data networking contract
The secretary to the Treasury Board of Manitoba, one of Premier Brian Pallister's top advisers, has resigned.
Last week, Paul Beauregard asked the clerk of the executive council, David McLaughlin, to start searching for a new leader for the Treasury Board Secretariat, a spokesperson from the provincial government told CBC News via email.
"The secretary will continue in his current role until a replacement is found and, along with hundreds of other public servants, will continue to support the work of Manitoba's COVID-19 vaccine task force," the spokesperson said.
Beauregard has been under fire for months from the Opposition NDP, which accused him of awarding a government contract for data networking services without going to tender — a process where the government releases a contract publicly, contractors bid for the right to do the job, then the government awards the contract to the lowest bidder.
The contract in question was awarded to Bell MTS last May, according to the provincial government's disclosure of contracts database.
Manitoba Telecom Services (now Bell MTS) signed a 10-year contract, valued at over $124 million, to provide networking services in government offices across the province in 2010. Bell MTS was awarded a 30-month extension, worth $37.5 million, after the contract expired last year.
But the NDP says Beauregard, who once served as a Bell MTS executive, did not let companies compete for that contract extension. In doing so, the NDP says he prevented Manitoba Hydro International — Hydro's commercial subsidiary company — from bidding on the contract.
In September, the NDP called for an audit of Hydro International to prove there was interference. The party said documents obtained through the freedom of information act show Beauregard prevented Hydro International from trying to secure the contract.
A month later, Pallister accused the NDP of "maliciously defaming" Beauregard. Then in December, he described the accusations as a personal attack against a civil servant based on false information.
Also in December, NDP MLA Adrien Sala accused the Progressive Conservative government of trying to silence his accusations against Beauregard, after he became the subject of a formal complaint under the province's respectful workplace policy.
Sala called it an act of intimidation, and said the government was trying to undermine his freedom to question its actions during question period.
Inside the Legislative Assembly, MLAs are given parliamentary privilege that allows them to raise matters without the fear of legal consequences. If a member takes something too far, however, the Speaker of the House can ask the MLA to withdraw the comment.
At the time, Government House Leader Kelvin Goertzen said the privilege to criticize other members in the chamber does not extend to civil servants such as Beauregard.
With files from Kristin Annable and Ian Froese