Freedom of Information Shows PCs Concealed McLaughlin Expenses Beyond $50K Contracts

January 12, 2021

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg MB - Manitoba Liberals say conflicting reports from the PC government has them wondering just how much Pallister's former two-time campaign manager, David McLaughlin, billed taxpayers before being installed as the bureaucrat in charge of Manitoba's public service.

Before being hired as Clerk of the Executive Council in May, McLaughlin received two $25,000 contracts as per the Province's Contract Disclosure website.

In a June 25, 2020 Freedom of Information (FIPPA) request to Manitoba Finance, the Manitoba Liberals asked for "all expenses submitted to government" by McLaughlin or his firm from September 11, 2019 to June 17, 2020." The FIPPA came back October 13, 2020, stating it "did not locate any records."

But a separate FIPPA response, in which Manitoba Liberals requested McLaughlin's communication with Manitoba Conservation and Climate, shows he billed the Manitoba Government for $1,067.26 for a November 28, 2019 flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg (return) for a one-day forum.

McLaughlin's first $25,000, 4-month contract ($6250 a month), kicked in on November 30, 2019, and had as a condition that its total value, including taxes, would not exceed $25,000. Also, the contract reads: "The Service Provider shall not incur any expenses or debts on behalf of, nor make any commitments for, Manitoba without first obtaining written permission from Manitoba."

"We have the Pallister government telling us on the one hand that there are no records McLaughlin ever billed for anything, then lo and behold we have a thousand dollar plane ticket that covers a time he wasn't even on contract," said Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, Dougald Lamont. "It is far from clear what McLaughlin was being paid to do, where he was working from, and how much money it cost - which is quite something, considering he is now in charge of the Manitoba Government."

There is some confusion with the timing around McLaughlin's contracts and his hiring as Clerk of the Executive Council. The first contract ran from November 30, 2019 to March 31, 2020. The second contract was an extension for four months, but McLaughlin was appointed Clerk of the Executive Council in May.

Despite Pallister's repeated berating of Manitobans, telling them to stay home, McLaughlin returned to Ottawa for two weeks at Christmas to "work from home" with his family.

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