Information on a total of nine untendered Tiger Dam contracts valued at nearly $9 million was unveiled to PC researchers at the end of August – but only after they confronted the government directly and informed them they were breaking the law.
Earlier this year, Infrastructure minister Steve Ashton came under fire for trying to push an untendered $5 million flood equipment contract – Tiger Dams – through the government approval process in 2014. The sole distributor of Tiger Dams in Manitoba is a personal friend and financial backer of Ashton’s.
“After all the scandalous information surrounding this, we now learn the government has been systematically hiding the awarding of another $9 million to Ashton’s friend,” said Opposition Leader Brian Pallister. “We’ve now moved from the unethical to the illegal, and the only reason they even revealed this is they were caught red-handed.”
As of July 31, 2015 none of the untendered Tiger Dam contracts from 2009 to 2014 were disclosed in the Manitoba Untendered Contract Database as required by law under section 80 of the Financial Administration Act. (see Backgrounder)
On August 26, 2014, after more stonewalling, PC staff raised the violation of the Act in person with the Finance minister’s office. Two days later the Manitoba Untendered Contract Database was updated. This was the first time untendered contracts dating back to April 2, 2009 had been disclosed despite legislative requirements that happen “without delay.”
Questions remain: Why does this government only release information when caught breaking the law? What explanation do they have for failing to comply with the Act? How many tens of millions in additional untendered contracts to NDP friends and political donors have yet to be disclosed?
“Taxpayers are left paying more than was required, and getting less transparency. And of course the ultimate question going to the top of the NDP food chain is: why would anyone trust you or believe you, given what we know?” Pallister added.