Report raises questions about Manitoba flood equipment purchase

WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government was not justified in an initial attempt to buy $5 million in flood-fighting equipment from a specific contractor and avoid allowing other companies to bid, the province's ombudsman said Thursday.

See Full Article

But the 35-page report from Charlene Paquin also says that, in the end, the NDP government followed the rules.

The report neither clears nor condemns the government in a controversy it has faced since 2014.

The issue flared when Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton tried to get approval for $5 million worth of water-filled barrier tubes called Tiger Dams for flood-prone First Nations communities in the Interlake region north of Winnipeg.

An anonymous whistleblower complained to the ombudsman that Ashton pushed to have the contract awarded to a company run by a friend, who has contributed money to both Ashton's and the NDP's election campaigns.

In the end, the contract was put up for open bidding, but was never awarded. The First Nations communities went to the federal government to get the equipment.

The ombudsman's report says senior public servants were concerned with Ashton's attempt to sole-source the contract and pushed to have other equipment considered.

"Individuals we spoke with ... indicated that departmental staff did not agree with waiving a competitive procurement process," the report reads.

"However, as noted previously, the department was directed by the minister ... to draft a submission that proposed an untendered contract for Tiger Dams."

Government rules allow for contracts to be awarded without open bidding for things such as emergency equipment or when only one type of product is needed and there is only one supplier.

"In this case, we did not review any evidence that the ... requirements for 'sole-source' procurement were met," Paquin wrote.

The report leaves questions about the actions of Ashton and other politicians largely unanswered, because the ombudsman does not have the power to investigate members of the legislature.

A government source, with first-hand knowledge of the discussions, told The Canadian Press last year that Ashton made the request to the provincial Treasury Board, which insisted on open bidding.

The matter went to cabinet and Premier Greg Selinger initially backed Ashton's request, said the source, who would only speak on condition of anonymity.

Selinger has denied the accusation. He said last year he insisted on a full discussion by cabinet and Treasury Board and then directed the contract be put up for open bidding.

Ashton has also denied any wrongdoing. He has said flood-prone First Nations communities in the Interlake region asked for the Tiger Dams, which are distributed by one company in Manitoba. He felt it was an urgent matter permissible under government contract policies, he added.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Toronto Public Health orders 3 restaurants to close to slow COVID-19 spread

    Canada News CBC News
    Toronto Public Health has ordered three restaurants on King Street West to close to protect the public from COVID-19. In a news release on Saturday, the public health unit said the restaurants are: MARBL, 455 King St. W.; King Taps, 100 King St. Source
  • Nevada woman accused of bitcoin murder-for-hire plot

    World News CTV News
    RENO, NEV. -- A federal grand jury in California has indicted a Nevada woman accused of trying to hire a hit man on the internet for $5,000 in bitcoin to kill her ex-husband. Kristy Lynn Felkins, 36, of Fallon, is accused of communicating with someone in 2016 on a website that purported to offer murder-for-hire services. Source
  • Brazil's Bolsonaro released from hospital after surgery

    World News CTV News
    RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was released from hospital Saturday, the government said, a day after he underwent surgery to remove a bladder stone. "The president... was released from Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo this afternoon at 1:30 pm," said a brief statement issued by the communications ministry and signed by Bolsonaro's medical team. Source
  • Mexico to pursue soldiers, federal police in abduction probe

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Mexico has issued 25 arrest warrants for those who carried out and knew about the abduction of 43 students in southern Mexico in 2014, including for the first time members of the military and federal police, the Attorney General's Office announced Saturday. Source
  • Greek police seize 500,000 ecstasy pills, arrest 3 people

    World News CTV News
    THESSALONIKI, GREECE -- Greek police said Saturday they have seized 500,000 ecstasy pills and arrested three people. The operation took place Friday in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, police said. The street value of the pills was 10 million euros (CAD$15.5 million). Source
  • How Trump, Biden are preparing for first presidential debate

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Ahead of the first debate-stage matchup between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, each campaign is promising a stark contrast in policy, personality and preparation. Trump has decided to skip any formal preparation. Source
  • Scores arrested in protest against Belarus' president

    World News CTV News
    KYIV, UKRAINE -- Hundreds of women calling for the authoritarian president to step down protested in Belarus' capital on Saturday, continuing the large demonstrations that have rocked the country since early August. Police blocked off the centre of Minsk and arrested more than 80 demonstrators, according to the Viasna human rights organization. Source
  • Proud Boys rally has Portland, Ore., in weekend state of emergency

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of supporters of the far-right Proud Boys group were expected in Portland, Ore., on Saturday as police prepared for clashes in a city that has become the epicentre of sometimes deadly political violence in the run-up to the Nov. Source
  • Dozens in body armour arrive in Portland, Ore., for far-right rally as tensions escalate in U.S.

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of supporters of the far-right Proud Boys group were expected in Portland, Ore., on Saturday as police prepared for clashes in a city that has become the epicentre of sometimes deadly political violence in the run-up to the Nov. Source
  • First Nations police services look to throne speech pledge for higher, stable funding

    Canada News CBC News
    The Rama Police Service, which serves the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, does not have dedicated funding for forensic and crime investigation units, or to provide aid to victims. Rama police Chief Jerel Swamp said the force provides front-line, culturally responsive policing to the community near Orillia, Ont. Source