Manitoba Liberals File Complaint with Ombudsman as PCs Shut Down Freedom of Information Requests

May 13, 2019

Winnipeg - Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface and Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, says his caucus has had to file a complaint with the Provincial Ombudsman because the Pallister Government is ignoring Manitoba's Freedom of Information law.

Lamont said that Freedom of Information requests or "FIPPAs" aren't even being acknowledged, much less answered, when they are being sent to Finance, Crown Services and Executive Council. The law requires that requests are acknowledged within 30 days.

"This is a Premier who does not want Manitobans to know what he is doing on critical files, even as he is planning to call a snap election," says Lamont. "It's not just freedom of information - the Premier is using all sorts of legislative tricks so he can avoid tough questions and debate on the budget."

When the Manitoba Liberals requested information on the Request for Proposal that awarded a contract to UK company Babcock International, to take over Manitoba's water bombers, the response was that the information could not be released because it would "harm business interests of third parties, or economic harm for a public body."

Lamont added that Liberals have no choice to make freedom of information requests because the PCs refuse to release basic information and data about what they are doing as a government, including statistics, the numbers of children in care, or the amount of revenue being generated by legal cannabis sales.

"Pallister and the PCs are treating the government like it's their own private company, but they have an obligation to be open, transparent, accountable, and answer questions. That is not happening."

The PCs have resorted to legislative stunts and stalling tactics so the premier can avoid direct questioning at committee of supply in what are known as "estimates." The PCs even introduced legislation for next year's budget - 2020 - before this year's budget has even been debated or passed.

"Whether he likes it or not, all of this secrecy and avoidance sends the message that the Premier has something to hide," said Lamont.

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