Greg Selinger defends himself, government, against Omnitrax lawsuit

NDP Leader Greg Selinger says a lawsuit filed against the government, NDP MLA Steve Ashton and himself has no basis in fact.
NDP Leader Greg Selinger says a lawsuit filed against the government, NDP MLA Steve Ashton and himself has no basis in fact.

NDP Leader Greg Selinger says a lawsuit filed against the government, NDP MLA Steve Ashton and himself has no basis in fact.

The lawsuit alleges Selinger released sensitive information related to the sale of the Omnitrax northern rail system to a Manitoba First Nation.

In the lawsuit, OmniTrax Canada said it entered into a non-disclosure agreement with the province around March 17, 2015, and that the company provided Manitoba with confidential and proprietary financial and operating information.

OmniTrax alleges in December 2015, the government of Manitoba, Ashton and Selinger disclosed confidential financial information about the company to consulting firm MNP LLP and Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

Selinger said Monday the lawsuit has no merit.

"Look, when somebody files a lawsuit and they make an allegation it will be dealt with by our government officials. They've already said they think there's no basis for that based on some of the early work they've done. That's entirely up to the government to handle," he said.

Selinger denies disclosing confidential information to anyone and says provincial government officials are preparing a statement of defence, but that's not what he is focusing on, he said.

"Our focus right now in this election is to let northern people know that we're supportive of having a good rail system in the north," he said. 

The Progressive Conservatives said the lawsuit is just another reason to kick the NDP out of power after 17 years.

"The lawsuit will play out in the way that lawsuits play out, but I do think that Manitobans on election night will have an opportunity to end the drama and end the scandal," said Kelvin Goertzen, the PC's candidate for Steinbach. Leader Brian Pallister was campaigning in the north and not available for comment. 

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said the timing of the lawsuit against Selinger and his government is interesting, coming on the heels of Tory Leader Brian Pallister's admission he owns a vacation home and has business holdings in Costa Rica. 

"You can't really trust either of them," she said, referring to Selinger and Pallister. "There has to be a responsible, reasonable voice and that is us."