Selinger NDP ignored public servants to push through Tiger Dams deal

Ombudsman’s findings show NDP has learned nothing from previous civil-service abuses: Goertzen

The Selinger NDP government ignored serious concerns expressed by senior civil servants and ordered a purchase of Tiger Dams to proceed without tender, according to a provincial Ombudsman’s report released today. That report examined the $5-million contract that was spearheaded in 2014 by Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton for Tiger Dams for the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council.

“The Ombudsman’s findings show the Minister was determined to award this contract to a specific vendor and through an untendered contract,” said Opposition house leader Kelvin Goertzen. “This was done with complete disregard to the advice of senior civil servants who were fulfilling their duty to provide expert advice and do what is right for all Manitobans.”

The report finds senior staff in the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation had advised the Minister that there already existed a sufficient inventory of Tiger Dams and that more equipment diversification was needed. The Ombudsman also discovered there appeared to be price irregularities that were unexplainable by department staff. All that advice was ignored as the Minister directed public servants to proceed in recommending the untendered contract to the Treasury Board.

The scope of the Ombudsman’s probe was limited in excluding any considerations of ministerial wrongdoing or conflict of interest, though the findings further outline the Selinger NDP’s willingness to abuse the provincial public service for political gain.

“The NDP has learned nothing from previous investigations into its abuse and politicizing of the public service,” Goertzen added, noting the Ombudsman’s probe in 2013 of former cabinet minister Christine Melnick’s use of provincial staff at a legislature rally. “The NDP shows no respect for the civil service and continues to put its political interests above those of the province.”


Quotes from Ombudsman’s report

PG 13: “We were told that the minister subsequently directed MIT to prepare a Treasury Board submission that recommend purchasing $5 million of Tiger Dams for IRTC though an untendered contract”.

PG 15: “the justification for proposing a sole source, untendered contract, given that there was more than one supplier the department has used in the past for this kind of equipment and no compelling
reason provided to not tender”

PG 16: “No MIT staff we interviewed knew of research the department had conducted to considered regarding the flood protection needs for First Nation communities in the Interlake region of the
province or the purchase of $5 million of Tiger Dams, despite the guidance in the PAM to do “research and analysis” in the first stage of the procurement cycle.

PG 17: “MIT departmental staff we spoke with indicated that while there was merit to the idea of having an Emergency Operations Centre for First Nations communities in the Interlake with dedicated flood
fighting equipment, they did not believe that purchasing only water-filled barriers was the most effective use of funds. The evidence we reviewed indicates that the position of the MIT
administration was that a variety of equipment was needed to prepare for flooding and it felt that both the First Nation communities involved and MIT already has a sufficient amount of water-filled
barriers in their inventories.”

PG 19: “We note that the submission proposed to waive a competitive process despite the fact that on July 4, 2014, MIT purchased two Standard Emergency Response Trailers from International Flood Control
at a significantly lower price than the price per trailer that International Flood Control provided on July 30, 2014. We were not provided with an explanation for the price difference, nor is there any
indication that, despite staff having noticed this change in price, the departmental assessed reasons for the price difference prior to submitting the request to Treasury Board.”

PG 19: “Individuals we spoke with at MIT indicated that departmental staff did not agree with waiving a competitive procurement process. However, as noted previously, the department was directed by
the minister of MIT to draft a submission that proposed an untendered contract for Tiger Dams.”

PG 30: “The evidence indicated that the political level of government did not just set the policy direction in this case, but also initially directed the manner in which the procurement of flood-fighting
equipment should occur (i.e., an untendered contract).