New evidence shows the Selinger NDP used flood protection as a cover to direct millions of dollars in untendered contracts for security services to a select few insiders. The Tiger Dams scandal may only be the beginning.
“We asked for details of these untendered contracts and the NDP claims there has been only one since 2008,” said Opposition Leader Brian Pallister. “Our team has uncovered dozens of untendered and undisclosed contracts with the province and municipalities totaling more than $16 million, all directed to one provider.”
In October 2015 the NDP replied to repeated requests for information with the following: “There was one untendered contract since 2008 to provide security services.” Despite these claims, the NDP then quietly added 60 untendered flood zone security contracts – all of them awarded to one company - to the government’s untendered contracts database.
Further investigation and consultations with rural municipalities revealed dozens of additional untendered flood zone security contracts. Freedom of information documents show more than $16 million in untendered contracts were directed by the Selinger NDP government to be awarded to the one company.
The NDP pressured a number of communities to use its preferred flood zone security vendor despite repeatedly raised concerns regarding poor service and high costs. Some RMs, such as St. Laurent, attempted to fire the province’s preferred vendor. The NDP’s response was to bully the RM, suggesting its reimbursement would be reduced by nearly half if it tried to change security providers. Facing flood zone security bills in the millions of dollars, the RM felt it had to stay with the company the NDP directed it to use.
“Millions of dollars in untendered contracts for Tiger Dams, and now millions in untendered contracts for flood zone security,” added Pallister. “Manitobans work hard for their money. They are smart shoppers. They need a new PC government that provides Manitoba taxpayers the protection and value for money they deserve.”
Pallister recently announced a detailed plan to improve openness in government and restore the trust of Manitobans that has been lost over the past several years under the NDP. The plan includes a commitment to strengthen the powers of the conflict of interest commissioner and increase access to government records and access to information rules.
The Open Government Initiative would, in part, create a culture of smart shopping by ensuring untendered contracts are used only in exceptional circumstances. It would also allow the Auditor General to conduct random audits of departmental use of untendered contracts to ensure it’s exceptional and that all legislation and regulations are complied with to confirm transparency and accountability.