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Tories accuse Elections Manitoba of bias

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WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s Tory opposition hand-delivered a letter today to chief electoral officer Richard Balasko, accusing Elections Manitoba of pro-NDP bias.


The shot against Elections Manitoba and the NDP highlighted the last day of the spring sitting. MLAs resume sitting Sept. 14.


The letter, signed by 21 opposition MLAs, criticizes Elections Manitoba for its alleged preferential treatment of the NDP in how it billed the public purse for election expenses. The NDP later paid back $76,000.


In the letter the opposition Progressive Conservatives and Liberals say they want a proper accounting of what the NDP did and its relationship with Elections Manitoba, the independent office that oversees Manitoba elections.


"In essence, it appears that Elections Manitoba takes the position that it was proper to charge, prosecute and penalize opposition volunteers and candidates for overspending in three local unsuccessful campaigns, and to extensively publicize these cases prior to the 2003 general election, but to fail to charge the NDP for a long-standing scheme to wrongly obtain taxpayer rebates through deliberately falsified election statements, and then to work with the NDP to conceal the matter from the legislature and the public," the letter says.


The opposition will hold a public meeting June 16 at 10 a.m. at the legislative building. They want Elections Manitoba to attend.
The Doer government maintains the matter has been well-canvassed over the past six years and that the opposition is beating a dead horse.


The NDP also says it considered taking the matter to court years ago instead of paying back the money, because the party believed it had done nothing wrong, but decided against it as it would conflict with its legislation that banned union and corporate donations.


In the House, Premier Gary Doer criticized the Tories for focusing so much on the 1999 election during the session when it should have been focusing on health care and the economy.

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