Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Regrets over tweet

Wasylycia-Leis feels bad for Sokolyk after posting photo

  • Print

Judy Wasylycia-Leis has promised to restore ethics and integrity to city hall but, on Sunday afternoon, she wrapped her arms around the man who financed a scheme to steal a provincial election.

Wasylycia-Leis posted a photo on her Twitter account with Taras Sokolyk, who 20 years ago, as chief of staff to then-Tory premier Gary Filmon, directed funding for a vote-rigging scheme in the 1995 provincial election.

The dirty trick resulted in a provincial inquiry in 1998, where it was revealed Sokolyk had taken Tory campaign donations and secretly given them to an independent candidate in the Interlake, with the hope of stealing votes away from the NDP candidate. Sokolyk initially lied to investigators but confessed at the inquiry to his role in the scheme. The revelations helped turn public opinion against Filmon's PC government and ushered in Gary Doer and the NDP.

Former PC leader Stuart Murray secretly hired Sokolyk as a campaign adviser in 2002 but was forced to let him go after party insiders revealed he had covertly joined the team.

Sokolyk has since found success in the private sector, holding CEO positions with Canad Inns and Shape Foods, a flax-processing operation in Brandon.

The photo of the smiling Sokolyk and Wasylycia-Leis, taken at a community event at city hall marking Ukrainian independence, was on her Twitter account for a only a couple of hours Sunday afternoon before it was removed.

Wasylycia-Leis said Monday she regretted posting the photo and removed it -- not because it questioned her judgment to be photographed with an individual who displayed a lack of integrity and ethics during an election campaign -- but because it revived memories of the scandal and could have been hurtful to Sokolyk, someone she said she's known and worked with in the Ukrainian community for several years.

"I regret doing (posting the photo) it ... and I pulled the tweet just because I don't want to cause any more embarrassment to Taras Sokolyk," Wasylycia-Leis said during a campaign event Monday morning to publicize her support for a variety of crime-prevention initiatives. "He's made a mistake in the past, he's paid for it and by tweeting (the photo), we've allowed for this kind of chatter on Twitter."

Wasylycia-Leis said she had forgotten about the 1995 scandal and Sokolyk's role in it when she ran into him Sunday. She said the scandal is history and didn't want to revive it, adding she should have known posing for a photo with Sokolyk would raise eyebrows.

"With hindsight, perhaps it would have been best if I didn't tweet it," she said, but added the photo was meant to celebrate a major Ukrainian community event. "It has nothing to do with the past."

Retired political studies professor Paul Thomas, who is writing a paper on codes of ethics for politicians and political parties, said politicians have to be careful about their public image.

"We expect politicians to be ethical in their behaviour and appearances matter as much as reality and simply associating with people with a certain background can bring discredit to a politician," Thomas said

He said the vote-rigging scandal happened almost 20 years ago and, as Wasylycia-Leis said, Sokolyk paid a price for his role.

"Undoubtedly there are some warriors in the ranks of the New Democrats or the labour movement who still have a hate on for Taras Sokolyk but I believe most voters will have forgotten about those events a long time ago," Thomas said. "Most people have gotten over his role in those events."

Wasylycia-Leis said she didn't think the incident undermines her campaign or the loyalty of her campaign team and supporters.

"I regret doing this, from the point of view of opening up this chapter. I'm sure it's hurtful for Taras but I have no doubt that my team has any doubts about my integrity."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 26, 2014 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

Gary Lawless & Tim Campbell on the Jets' inconsistency - Jets This Week Oct. 16

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local- (Standup Photo). Watcher in the woods. A young deer peers from the forest while eating leaves by Cricket Drive in Assiniboine Park. A group of eight deer were seen in the park. 060508.
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Are you still on the Bombers' and Jets' bandwagons?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google