Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface, says the Pallister PCs are lying about the role played by a bureaucrat who was paid thousands of dollars to work on the campaign of Conservative MP Marty Morantz.
Last week, Manitoba Liberals submitted a complaint to Manitoba's Ombudsman about the unusual political and business activities of Michael Kowalson, the Manitoba Government's Director of Stakeholder Relations. Documents showed that Kowalson was paid through Kowintco, one of his many companies, to run the campaign of Conservative MP Marty Morantz.
When caught, the PCs claimed that Kowalson was a political staffer, would pay back some of the money and had apologized to the PC caucus.
Manitoba Liberals say the claim that Kowalson was political staff is simply not true, citing Kowalson's employment agreement from when he was first hired as Manager of Stakeholder Relations in April 2019.
The agreement is not with the PC Caucus or the Premier's office: it is with the non-partisan Clerk of the Executive Council. At the time, the Clerk was Fred Meier, who has now been hired to run Red River College. The document also makes it clear Kowalson was expected to work as a full-time, non-partisan bureaucrat who is expected to stay impartial and not have any businesses on the side. Kowalson continued to run multiple businesses, including Kowintco and Subway franchises.
Section 6.3 of the Conflict of Interest Rules, of Kowalson's agreement states:
"Employee is not permitted to engage in outside professional and business interests except with the written approval of Manitoba or designate. Manitoba or designate shall not grant approval unless Employee, once in each year, makes full disclosure of the nature of the interests and confirms, in writing, that the outside interests do not impede Employee's ability to perform the Services, are performed in Employee's personal time and without use of government offices or equipment, do not directly or indirectly relate to the Services and do not lead to a contravention of conflict of interest legislation, policies or guidelines or of any other provision of the Agreement.
Especially now that Kowalson has been exposed for his business and party interests, he cannot do his job of interacting in a non-partisan way with stakeholder groups.
"Kowalson was emailing PC staff with his business address and campaigning for Marty Morantz next to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance." said Lamont. "It is crystal clear that this is a gross violation of his employment agreement, and he should be fired immediately."