Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fire-hall probe sought

Law firm to examine legal issues

  • Print
Sam Katz says he doesn't believe a legal review will uncover anything new. Below, Dan Vandal says it's needed to rebuild public confidence in city hall.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Sam Katz says he doesn't believe a legal review will uncover anything new. Below, Dan Vandal says it's needed to rebuild public confidence in city hall. Photo Store

Calls are growing within and outside city hall for the province to call a public inquiry into the fire-paramedic station scandal as council takes steps to clear up unanswered questions.

A private law firm will be hired to determine whether the administration did anything illegal or exposed the city to a lawsuit for the series of moves that allowed local developer Shindico Realty to get the contracts to build four new fire halls.

Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), who proposed hiring outside legal help, said he was concerned other developers in the city may be considering legal action after consultants concluded Shindico Realty was repeatedly given unfair advantages to secure the contracts to build four fire halls.

Hiring independent legal counsel is necessary to rebuild public confidence in city hall, Vandal said.

"We need to take it from the forensic auditors to the lawyers and see what they say."

That follows moves taken Tuesday for consulting firm Ernst & Young to return to Winnipeg to interview councillors about their role, knowledge and concerns about the scandal.

Some councillors say that's not enough to determine whether the administration was directed to act to benefit Shindico.

"It seems very peculiar to me that four days (before the report is released) we buy off the CAO (Phil Sheegl), we buy his silence," Coun. Paula Havixbeck told reporters following the council meeting. Sheegl "needed to be here to answer to this."

The Ernst & Young review concluded the fire-hall program was badly managed, Shindico was given favourable treatment, and several civic policies were broken but found no one had acted criminally or breached the City of Winnipeg's code of conduct.

Havixbeck said people don't understand how Ernst & Young reached its conclusions, adding she's been getting copies of requests from individuals to Premier Greg Selinger, demanding he call a public inquiry and require public officials to testify under oath.

Havixbeck is the second city councillor to refer to a public inquiry. On Monday, Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said a public inquiry might be required.

On Wednesday, members of the executive policy committee refused to explain why they pressured Mayor Sam Katz to force Sheegl's resignation last week, four days before the Ernst & Young review was made public and revealed Sheegl's depth of involvement in the scandal.

The same members of EPC criticized Sheegl for forcing former fire paramedic chief Reid Douglas to resign before the audit was released.

Sheegl was criticized for effectively silencing Douglas, and now those same councillors have silenced Sheegl, who cannot be questioned about why he acted to benefit Shindico and if anyone on council directed him to do it.

"I'm not covering up anything," Vandal said, adding members of EPC had had enough of Sheegl and wanted him gone immediately but would not explain why they couldn't wait until the Ernst & Young review was released before forcing him out.

Vandal denied securing Sheegl's silence, adding the legal review should provide the answers everyone is seeking.

"It's unfortunate the way it ended up, but that's my only comment," Vandal said.

Russ Wyatt, also on EPC, refused to talk about why he participated in the push to get Sheegl out.

"It's a human resource matter and I'm going to leave it at that," Wyatt (Transcona) said.

Katz insisted he knew nothing about the scandal and had never talked to Sheegl about the fire hall construction program.

"If I did, I would probably have been accused of meddling in something," Katz said.

Katz blamed the members of EPC for forcing Sheegl out before he could answer questions about the fire-hall scandal.

"The timing was really bad, and if that hadn't taken place, we would have had our audit done and then things could move forward from there," Katz said.

Katz said he doesn't believe a legal review will uncover any new information about the scandal.

"I don't think there is anything there," Katz told reporters. "But at this stage of the game, it's probably the safe thing to do."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2013 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Tree remover has special connection to Grandma Elm

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google