Manitoba

Struthers sorry for 'misleading' on free Jets tickets

Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers apologized in the Legislature Monday, saying he "unintentionally" misled a committee last week when he said he didn't take any free tickets to Winnipeg Jets hockey games.
Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers enjoys Winnipeg Jets final regular season hockey game April 7 versus Tampa Bay Lightning. (CBC)

Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers apologized in the Legislature Monday, saying he "unintentionally" misled a committee last week when he said he didn't take any free tickets to Winnipeg Jets hockey games.

"I offer ... my sincere apologies for unintentionally misleading last week in estimates," Struthers said in the Legislature. "I inadvertently misled the House ... The information that I put on the record was incorrect. For this I offer my sincere apologies."

Struthers said he thought he was being asked if he took any free Jets tickets from Crown corporations when he said last week he didn't receive hockey tickets along with several of his NDP cabinet colleagues.

But Struthers got free tickets from Red River College and the Manitoba Homebuilders Association, he admitted on Monday. He said he also went to a Jets game with a ticket given to him from an unnamed personal acquaintance.

'I wish to offer my unreserved apology to you for any confusion which has arisen ...'—Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers

"I wish to offer my unreserved apology to you for any confusion which has arisen due to these statements," he said in a letter to Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson, chair of the Committee of Supply.

In all, 13 NDP MLAs accepted free Jets tickets from businesses, hotels and educational institutions, forcing the government to crack down on the practice and institute new conflict-of-interest guidelines.

Struthers promised to donate the value of the tickets he received to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

On Friday, Manitoba Greg Selinger apologized for the ticket scandal that has embroiled the government for the better part of a week.

He released a list of government politicians who received free sports tickets and called upon all ministers and MLAs to disclose if they had received free tickets.

Selinger said he has since asked the province's ethics commissioner to ensure new guidelines are applied. He also asked anyone who has not repaid the cost of a ticket they received improperly to make a charitable donation in the amount of the ticket.

Struthers said a new policy is in place that prohibits MLAs and Crown corporation employees from accepting free tickets to sport events.

"The Premier has made it clear that the old way of distributing tickets is not acceptable … I have apologized to the Premier for the misunderstanding."

Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen said that Struthers' contention that he "unintentionally" misled the house stretches credulity. 

But McFadyen denied that any Conservative MLAs accepted any free tickets from Crown corporations or other public institutions. "We know for a fact that none of our members took tickets that were taxpayer funded," he said.

now