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MLA Report - Oct. 20, 2021: PC leadership election scandal undermines public trust

Progressive Conservative party memberships allegedly purchased on new members' behalf would count as illegal contributions under Manitoba's Elections Financing Act.
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Thompson NDP MLA Danielle Adams

It is no secret that the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party has been fraught with controversy over the last few months. From the PC government’s handling of the pandemic to their divisive comments about residential schools this summer, this government has continuously undermined public trust and lacks both transparency and integrity.

Like many of the people I have talked to in Thompson, I am incredibly frustrated with the ongoing controversies and double standards we see from the PC government. Lately, the PCs have once again been involved in a scandal, and this time it is connected to their leadership race which will decide who the next premier of Manitoba will be. While the NDP has already demanded an investigation into this matter by the Manitoba elections commissioner, we need as many people as possible to be aware of what is going on and help us hold them to account.

According to media reports, a supporter of the now-disqualified PC leadership candidate Ken Lee allegedly offered to pay for party memberships using a no-interest, 100-year loan repayment scheme. Media reports have also indicated that up to 4,000 memberships in the PC leadership election may have been purchased in this way, which would essentially mean thousands of new PC members did not pay for their memberships but can still vote for our next premier.

According to the Elections Financing Act, any fee paid for membership in a political party in this manner would count as an illegal contribution. The PC party has publicly agreed this loan scheme should not be permitted, but neither the party nor the PC leadership campaigns have agreed to reject these memberships and return the money to Manitobans. This is not only unacceptable; it is also hypocritical. If memberships were bought illegally, the PC government should immediately take action to reject those memberships and ensure that every single vote for the next party leader and premier was obtained fairly and legally.

My NDP colleagues and I are pleased that the Manitoba elections commissioner has responded to our complaint and launched an investigation into this election scandal. Manitobans deserve more from this government and we will continue to bring attention to this important issue, demand transparency, and  hold the PC government to account so that Manitobans can be assured that no one can buy their way into the premier’s office.

As always, you can contact my office anytime at Danielle.adams@yourmanitoba.ca or 204-677-2744.