For Immediate Release
Manitoba Liberals Call for Investigation into Pallister’s Interference in Manitoba Public Insurance, Propose Tougher Rules for Meddling in Crowns
July 7, 2019
WINNIPEG - Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, says there must be a public inquiry into years of PC and NDP interference in Crown Corporations, including Premier Brian Pallister’s latest transgressions at MPI.
MPI has been trying to update its systems to make it possible for Manitobans to update their driver’s licenses and insurance online, when according to reports, the Pallister government intervened costing rate payers an extra $23 million over 5 years.
Pallister intervened again, doing an end run around MPI’s board, saying that MPI had to keep paying $83-million a year in commissions to insurance brokers — whether work was done or not. The NDP created a “minimum compensation” deal in 2012.
“At a time when he is cutting and freezing everything else, the Premier is forcing MPI to raise rates to give free money to an industry he’s connected to,” said Lamont. “We have to stop treating political interference in Crowns as 'business as usual' in Manitoba.”
There have been media reports that described NDP interference in MPI as “brutal”. In 2000, the NDP were going to use MPI funds to finance university expansions until they backed down after a public outcry. In 2001, MPI funds were going to finance hiring more Crown Prosecutors to go after car thieves, and in 2010, the NDP tried to force MPI to fund infrastructure.
Lamont said a public inquiry would provide concrete examples of where interference had gone wrong and provide recommendations on how to keep Crown Corporations clear from political interference. The Pallister government has faced board crises in the three biggest Manitoba Crowns: Hydro, MLLC, and now MPI.
Lamont said Manitoba Liberals will introduce legislation in their first term to create a transparent, consistent, merit-based appointment process for Crown boards through an arms-length nominating committee, under a reestablished Crown Corporations Council.
In 2016 the Pallister government axed the Crown Corporations Council, a civilian board that oversaw crown corporations. When it was scrapped, the government promised continued civilian oversight in crown boards. Yet has used this as an opportunity to give kickbacks to friends and donors at the expense of rate payers.
The civilian council will act on recommendations from an Inquiry that will further prevent political interference in crown decision-making, based off best practices in other jurisdictions.
“PCs and NDP meddling in Crown Corporations has resulted in higher debt and higher rates for Manitobans,” said Lamont. “Manitoba Liberals are offering a new way forward on Crowns so they are run for the benefit of all Manitobans.”