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Was Political Favouritism At Play in Buy-Local Grants for Entrepreneur-turned PC Candidate?

Obby Khan’s Business ‘Goodlocal’ Received Over One-Third of Provincial Buy-Local Funds, worth $500,000

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Liberals are asking whether political favouritism was at play in the PCs business supports after discovering through Freedom of Information that Obby Khan’s business, GoodLocal, received $500,000 barely a year before he declared his candidacy in Fort Whyte and endorsed PC Heather Stefanson for PC Leader.

In November 2020, when Manitoba was experiencing its disastrous second wave of the pandemic, the PCs announced a $75,000 “shop local” initiative that was widely panned, including by Khan, who lobbied for funding for his own company GoodLocal.

The online store with delivery service has been hyped as “Amazon + Etsy, but local”. It only delivers in select areas within Metro Winnipeg region, and takes a percentage of each sale from local businesses.

On December 3, 2020, Khan’s business received $50,000 from the province. Two weeks later, on December 15, 2020, the PCs announced a further $1.5-million for “buy local” programs across the province. The PC government mentioned GoodLocal in their news release, but did not specify the amount of money Khan’s business was receiving.

That information had to be obtained through a Freedom of Information request, which showed that GoodLocal had received $500,000one third of the program’s “buy local” funds for the entire province. That is more than the $409,023 that was split between all Chambers of Commerce in Manitoba, including Winnipeg. $536,000 was left in reserve.

The contract includes guaranteed funds for marketing and promotion.

Just ten months after his business received a $500,000 payment from the PC Government, Khan endorsed Heather Stefanson for PC Leader, in a video where he praised her for being one of the first people to oppose Bill 64. In fact, Stefanson seconded the bill when it was introduced.

“The PCs need to explain just what the deal was, because if this is a candidate recruitment strategy, it is going to cost Manitobans a lot of money,” said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface. “In a pandemic and in politics, we should not be playing favourites, and plenty of businesses are struggling. This shows that at Manitobans’ time of greatest need, the PCs are only ever thinking of themselves.”

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