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Tories: NDP 'vindictively removing' local lawyer from sports board

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Opposition Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says today city lawyer Robert Tapper has been booted off a commission that governs boxing matches and mixed martial arts fights.

Tapper, a long-time ringside judge, was set to serve a third term on the Manitoba Combative Sports Commission, but PCs say his reappointment has been revoked by Premier Greg Selinger.

The PCs say Selinger and the NDP did it in retaliation for Tapper acting for the Tories in their upcoming court challenge of the legality of last year’s PST increase.

A government spokeswoman said today Tapper wasn't removed from the commission.

"His second term expired. We thank Mr. Tapper for his two terms of service on the Manitoba Boxing Commission and Manitoba Combative Sports Commission. We hope he will remain on the commission until a new member is appointed."

Tapper says that before Christmas he'd been in contact with Deputy Minister Eric Robinson's office — Robinson is the minister responsible for the commission — and told that he would be reappointed to the commission for a three-year term. His current term expired last month.

Tapper said he accepted the reappointment only to be later told by another government official it had been yanked because of his involvement to in the PST challenge.

"All I can tell you what the facts are," Tapper said, adding he had been involved with the commission since the early 1980s.

"Do I know who specifically in caucus made the decision? No, I do not. I'm assuming Selinger had his hands in it. It certainly wasn't Eric Robinson, because he was the one who approved it."

Tapper said by the government nixing his involvement with the commission it blurs the line between his job as a lawyer and what he does in his spare time.

"Selinger and his crew are in my view are a spoiled, petty, vindictive little bunch," he said.

"This is another sad example of a tired government putting its own partisan interests ahead of fairness and merit," Pallister said in a news release. "The Selinger NDP is vindictively removing someone who has served the Manitoba sports community with dedication and distinction."

History

Updated on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM CST: Adds comments from a government spokeswoman and Robert Tapper.

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