WINNIPEG - The NDP ticketgate scandal continued to unfold Wednesday with revelations that three more Crown corporations bought Winnipeg Jets tickets for their senior brass and cabinet ministers on the public dime.
And one cabinet minister said they did it to help the Jets reach their 13,000-ticket drive goal.
That’s how laughable the Selinger government’s response to this scam has been this week.
We told you Tuesday the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission snapped up 440 prime Jets tickets almost entirely for their senior executives.
We’ve since found out the Manitoba Lotteries Corp., Manitoba Public Insurance Corp. and Manitoba Hydro have all spent public dollars to obtain expensive tickets to the NHL games, thanks to the findings of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation.
Some tickets have gone to charities and customer draws. But most have been scooped up by senior managers, executives and NDP-appointed board members.
That includes one-time NDP finance minister Vic Schroeder who treated himself and a guest to a Jets game while he was chairman of Manitoba Hydro.
Hydro got a pair of season tickets as part of a sponsorship deal. And they bought another pair using ratepayers money so their senior brass could attend games for free.
Hydro Minister Dave Chomiak — never one to miss an opportunity of sounding like a jackass — said the tickets were bought by Hydro to help the Jets meet their season-ticket drive.
“They had purchased two tickets as part of the push to get season tickets over 13,000 or whatever that drive was,” said Chomiak.
Yeah, it was really touch and go, Dave. Good thing Hydro helped us bring it over the top.
How long did it take to sell out, like 13 minutes?
“You know what, I’ll double check that with the Crown,” said Chomiak, looking a little more confused than usual. “That’s what I was advised.”
How about just telling the truth?
Schroeder and his NDP buddies at Hydro wanted to get Jets tickets so they could go to games. And they jumped the queue and used their influence to get those tickets, all on the public dime. That’s the real story.
And it’s the same story with all these Crowns. They abused their positions in public office to get highly-sought-after NHL tickets and they used our money to do it.
We asked Finance Minister Stan Struthers whether any of these big-wigs will be forced to repay the cost of the tickets we paid for. He wouldn’t answer, saying only that he’s working on some new policy that will set out new rules banning board members, cabinet members and at least some MLAs from getting free tickets from Crown corporations.
We’ve asked for copies of this so-called policy that’s been reported in some media. But it doesn’t exist and it apparently keeps changing from one day to the next. One day it was only for the Jets because an NHL ticket is a “hot” commodity, said Struthers. The next day it supposedly included the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, although Struthers and Premier Greg Selinger aren’t sure.
This is damage control, folks. Senior people in government tried to get away with something they knew, or ought to have known, was wrong. They are now scrambling to try to clean up their mess in the most politically correct fashion possible, using whatever spin any media outlet is willing to help them advance.
They thought they were entitled to their entitlements.
But they got caught.
And we can thank the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation for that.