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Mayoral hopeful will seek RCMP investigation

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Coun. Paula Havixbeck plans to ask the Mounties to investigate city hall if she's elected mayor in October.

Unsatisfied with the scope of a trio of city-commissioned audits, the Charleswood-Tuxedo councillor pledged Tuesday to ask the RCMP to scrutinize Winnipeg's police-headquarters project and the fire-paramedic station replacement program to ensure no criminal acts took place.

"I want assurances there was no wrongdoing on the (police headquarters) file, on the fire-hall file and whatever we see in the real estate audit.

"I want to be able to assure citizens there was no wrongdoing," Havixbeck said Tuesday at city hall.

She is upset by revelations senior city officials were aware the police-headquarters project was tens of millions of dollars over budget eight months before this information was relayed to councillors, she added.

"This is the absolute essence of what's wrong at city hall," she said.

Havixbeck expressed concern an audit of the project, expected to be completed soon, will not be thorough.

She also said she wants to know whether any of the issues raised by the 2013 review of the fire-paramedic station replacement program relate to the police-HQ audit and a broader audit of major city real estate transactions, also expected soon.

A legal examination of the 2013 fire-paramedic station review found no evidence of criminal behaviour.

Havixbeck's opponents expressed concern about a pledge to call the police into city hall, especially with the real estate audit expected imminently.

"Don't you think it makes sense to look at the report first and then make decisions?" asked lawyer and former city councillor Gord Steeves.

Lawyer Brian Bowman and former NDP MP and MLA Judy Wasylycia-Leis -- who are also running for mayor -- said city hall is too busy auditing past mistakes when it should be ensuring proper checks and balances exist to prevent future scandals.

"Some people would say we've been audited to death. I think we should be monitored to death," Wasylycia-Leis said.

Both she and Bowman have pledged to create measures to ensure city hall is more accountable for its decisions.

The revelations about the police headquarters also prompted comments from several councillors who voted in favour of the project when it first went before council in 2009.

St. James-Brooklands Coun. Scott Fielding, who isn't seeking re-election, said he's angry to learn how long city staff waited before notifying elected officials about cost increases.

Council property chairman Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said he now believes council was not provided with enough details about the police headquarters project from the beginning.

"We were not given enough information to make an informed decision even to proceed with the purchase of the (Canada Post) building and to build the facility at the Graham Avenue location," he said.

Mayor Sam Katz said Monday he was unaware officials knew the police HQ project was tens of millions over budget months before council was informed.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2014 B1

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