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Free Jets ticket not attempt to curry favour: oil executive

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WINNIPEG -- The top executive of Manitoba’s largest oil company said the firm was looking for face time, not favours, when it hosted Energy Minister Dave Chomiak at a Jets game last February.

"Dave is a hard guy to get hold of," Tundra Oil and Gas president and CEO Dan MacLean told reporters this morning at an event celebrating mining week in Manitoba.

So the company invited him to watch a Jets game with some Tundra executives from a corporate box in the arena.

"It’s like going out to dinner or lunch," MacLean said. "It’s just another way of getting his attention. I bring him up to speed on what we’ve been doing and what our successes are and what our plans are."

MacLean said he didn’t think he was at that particular game, but he does remember attending a Manitoba Moose game with Chomiak during the American Hockey League team’s last season in Winnipeg.

He said he also used that occasion to update Chomiak on Tundra’s business activities. He said it wasn’t done to curry favours from the minister or his department.

Chomiak was also on hand for today’s event at The Forks, and reporters used the occasion to grill him again about the appropriateness of him attending a Jets game at Tundra’s expense. The minister didn’t apologize for his actions or admit that he was wrong to have accepted the oil company’s invitation.

Instead, he noted the Selinger government has implemented new rules since the so-called "ticketgate" scandal erupted several weeks ago over Chomiak and several other cabinet ministers accepting free tickets to Jets games from private companies and Crown corporations. The new policy prohibits cabinet ministers from accepting tickets to any pro-sports events, and Chomiak indicated he’s fine with that.

"I believe it’s import that we have a clear policy. And I think it’s important that we’re moving forward," he said.

The minister was at today’s event to help celebrate mining week and to announce the province is providing $1.2 million to fund new geological mapping activities in the province. The mapping will help attract new exploration investment to the province, he said.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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