Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

McClung event focus of complaint

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SHE helped win the vote for women almost 100 years ago, but celebrating her contribution Jan. 28 will soon be the subject of a complaint, Tory Leader Brian Pallister said Friday.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives say the event at the legislative building to commemorate Nellie McClung, organized by the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council, is in violation of Manitoba's Elections Financing Act as it is a political event on the same day as two provincial byelections.

"The government has played fast and loose with the elections rules, historically. We want to make sure they aren't doing it now," Pallister said. "It would be in the government's best interest, quite frankly, to make sure they're not abusing the election rules before the event rather than find out they did after the event."

Section 92 of the act restricts government advertising for general elections and byelections in the last 90 days before election day and on election day unless it's required by law or required at that time because it's needed to keep the business of government working, such as soliciting proposals or tenders for contracts, or because it relates to important matters of public health or safety. The NDP say the McClung event was organized before the byelections in Morris and Arthur-Virden were called and it is a public, non-partisan event to mark the 98th anniversary of women's suffrage in Manitoba.

"Nellie McClung fought unselfishly for women's rights," Pallister added. "It's something worth celebrating. I've celebrated it most of my life, but that's not the issue. The issue is what Nellie McClung fought against. What she fought against was abuse of power by governments."

Pallister also repeated his call for Premier Greg Selinger to come clean about when he knew former cabinet minister Christine Melnick lied about her role in inviting immigrants and immigration groups to a legislative debate almost two year ago. "We've seen a coverup," Pallister said. "The premier has not been clear at this point about when he first knew about Madam Melnick's misstatements, her perjured evidence put before the house and a committee. Until he comes clean, we won't know. We will have to speculate."

Selinger has said he only learned of the lie after the ombudsman began his investigation in the affair in the mid-summer of 2012. The ombudsman's report was released a month ago. It found Melnick instructed a senior civil servant to invite immigration service agencies to the legislature in April 2012 for what turned out to be a confrontation between federal Conservative MPs and a provincial government upset Ottawa planned to seize total control of the delivery of immigrant services, including those handled by the province.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2014 A8

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Updated on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 12:20 PM CST: adds photo

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