To Protect Citizens, Pallister Must Call an Inquiry into Police HQ & Other City Property Deals

December 13, 2019

WINNIPEG - The collapse of a criminal investigation into transactions around Winnipeg property deals is all the more reason for the Province to call a public inquiry, said Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, Dougald Lamont.

"If the Pallister Government does not call an inquiry, they will be sweeping all of this under the rug," said Lamont. "Not having enough evidence to convict someone of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt doesn't mean that any of this was acceptable."

In 2014, a number of audits took place at City Hall that uncovered a series of disturbing deals.

Originally, the new Police Headquarters were proposed as an alternative to recladding the Public Safety Building, which had an estimated cost between $20-million and $40-million. By the end of the project, the cost was $214-million - over $80-million over budget.

Over the course of the development, it emerged that:

  • The former Canada Post building was purchased without an estimate of its value
  • The company that won the contract never submitted a bid
  • The total cost of the building was $214-million, $79-million over the original $135-million budget
  • Building materials from the project were found on other projects by the same developer
  • Evidence showed that the developer had written a $200,000 cheque to then-Chief Administrative Officer Phil Sheegl, who also wrote a cheque to former Mayor Sam Katz

At the same time, the City of Winnipeg also performed a series of land swaps and ended up building a fire station on property the City did not own.

Lamont said the failure to convict was an example of a "two-tier" justice system that is especially toothless when it comes to conflict of interest and allegations of wrong-doing among the powerful. Manitoba's conflict of interest laws are some of the oldest and weakest in Canada.

"The Pallister Government has promised to deliver on stronger ethics and conflict of interest laws, yet nothing is happening," said Lamont. "Justice is supposed to be blind and we need to be willing to have tougher laws so that no one is above the law."

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