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

  • One dead, one in critical after plane crashes into river near Jasper, Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    JASPER, Alta. - One person has died and another was taken to hospital after a small plane crashed into a river in western Alberta. RCMP Const. Shelley Nasheim says the aircraft was attempting to take off from an airstrip near Jasper on Sunday afternoon when it crashed into a nearby river. Source
  • 5 shot dead, 6 wounded in Acapulco bar near beach

    World News CTV News
    ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Gunmen killed five men and wounded six other people at a popular bar in Acapulco on Sunday, the latest in a string of violent incidents for the once-glamorous Pacific Coast resort city that has fallen on hard times. Source
  • Puerto Rico governor says he won't seek re-election in wake of scandal

    World News CBC News
    Puerto Rico's embattled governor says he will not seek re-election but will not resign as the island's leader, though he will step down as head of his pro-statehood party. Ricardo Rossello made the announcement Sunday via a brief Facebook video as hundreds of viewers posted angry messages. Source
  • U.S. notes advance in Mexican migration enforcement

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged during a meeting Sunday that Mexico has made significant progress on migration enforcement, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said. Ebrard said in a statement that due to these advances, Mexico sees no need to negotiate a "safe third country" agreement with Washington that would require migrants to apply for asylum in Mexico rather than in the U.S. Source
  • Plane crash near Jasper townsite sends two people to hospital

    Canada News CBC News
    Two people have been taken to hospital after a small plane crashed near the town of Jasper on Sunday afternoon. It was reported at about 1:30 p.m. that the aircraft crashed into the Athabasca River near the local airport, RCMP Const. Source
  • 1 person dead, another in critical condition after plane crash in Jasper, Alta.

    Canada News CBC News
    One person is dead and another is in critical condition after a small plane crashed near the town of Jasper, Alta., on Sunday afternoon. Alberta Health Services spokesperson Amy Crofts confirmed one person was declared dead on scene, and the other was taken to hospital. Source
  • President's party leads Ukraine election, exit poll says

    World News CTV News
    KIEV, Ukraine -- President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's party took the largest share of votes in the country's snap parliamentary election, an exit poll showed Sunday. The poll of 13,000 voters showed Servant of the People getting 43.9% of the vote for party-list candidates, far ahead of rivals. Source
  • U.S. accuses Venezuela jet of aggressive action over Caribbean

    World News CTV News
    CARACAS, Venezuela -- U.S. authorities on Sunday said that a Venezuelan fighter jet "aggressively shadowed" an American intelligence plane flying in international airspace over the Caribbean, underscoring rising tensions between the two nations. The U.S. Source
  • Relief in sight for southeastern Canada following weekend heat wave

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Relief is in sight for sweltering Canadians after a weekend of high humidity and thunderstorms that have affected sporting events, caused localized flooding, and sent people flocking to local pools to beat the heat. Source
  • Roy Halladay's widow calls late pitcher 'true competitor' at Hall of Fame induction

    Canada News CBC News
    The late Roy Halladay has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. His widow, Brandy, delivered the speech and fought back tears as she spoke. The 40-year-old Halladay was killed in a plane crash in November 2017. Source