Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB - Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, says there needs to be a deeper investigation into the political activities of a senior bureaucrat in the Manitoba Government who has admitted to running a Conservative MPs campaign on the public dime.
Michael Kowalson was appointed as the province's Manager for Stakeholder Relations in April 2019, and promoted in January, 2020 to Director of Stakeholder Relations, a position that pays $140,000 to $170,000.
On Thursday, June 11, Manitoba Liberals submitted a complaint to the provincial Ombudsman, with documents showing Kowalson was paid through his companies to work on the campaign of Conservative MP Marty Morantz.
A spokesperson for the premier would not comment on whether Brian Pallister knew about Kowalson's campaign work at the time, but noted he has faced consequences. Kowalson said he apologized and will return his salary for the time he worked on the campaign. Manitoba Liberals say that's not enough - e-mails and a video show a huge number of senior politicians and staff for the Manitoba PCs and Conservative Party of Canada knew Kowalson was working for Morantz the entire time.
"You don't get to take government money you're not entitled to, give it back and get to keep your job," said Lamont. "While Brian Pallister has been firing people, cutting wages and forcing cuts, he used public money to pay someone to work on a Conservative campaign."
As of Thursday, Kowalson was still shown as President of Morantz's Electoral District Association (EDA) for the Conservative Party of Canada. Members of that EDA are a who's who of prominent PCs and Conservatives, and Kowalson has been involved the entire time he was working in a non-partisan role at the province.
Manitoba Liberals obtained lists of e-mail addresses and names for the Conservative EDA that show the individuals involved, and Kowalson's name and e-mail appear on Feb 3, 2019; March 6, 2019; April 28, 2019; July 25, 2019 and July 29, 2019.
Members of that EDA include:
Marni Larkin, a PC/ CPC strategist and owner of Boom Done Next. Larkin was campaign manager for Mayor Sam Katz in 2008.
Gus Nelson, Conservative Party Regional Organizer for Manitoba and Kenora
Scott Gillingham, City Councillor and Chair of Winnipeg's Finance Committee
Luc Lewandowski, currently Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance
Melanie Maher, a CPC candidate who now works as a PC staffer at the legislature
Grant Nordman, former City Councillor
Tim Diack, former candidate for Mayor
Stephen Barber, a Policy Analyst at Manitoba Health
Craig Glennie, School Trustee for the St. James-Assiniboia School Division
Robert Harper - Contract Analyst, Shared Health
Kowalson continued to use his business email for his company, Kowintco, even after he was working for government.
What's more, a video posted by CPC MP Marty Morantz on October 19, 2019, features Kowalson as master of ceremonies at a campaign event introducing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Kowalson is introduced as Morantz' campaign manager, promotes his own Subway restaurants, and recognizes PC Finance Minister Scott Fielding before introducing Deputy Premier and Families Minister Heather Stefanson.
"Brian Pallister's Deputy Premier, his Finance Minister, a City Councillor, a Conservative candidate for MP and countless PC staffers all knew what Kowalson was doing. Every single one of them should have known he was not supposed to be there in that role," said Lamont. "This is an outrageous abuse of public trust and public funds. An apology isn't enough. We need an investigation."
ATTACHED - 1. Morantz Fundraiser Video