Two senior and longtime Manitoba Government and General Employees Union staffers with close ties to the provincial NDP have been suspended from their positions with the union, sources say.
One of them, Bob Dewar, is a former chief of staff to former premier Gary Doer and quarterbacked successful provincial election campaigns for the New Democrats in 1999 and 2003.
The other, Bruce Buckley, was appointed by the NDP government to chair the Manitoba Taxicab Board.
Dewar had been serving as operations director for the MGEU. Buckley was the union's legal and rural services director.
Labour and NDP sources said the men have been suspended for the past few weeks. They don't know why.
"I was floored by it. I had no inkling that there was anything like this in the works," a labour official said.
"I was taken aback, actually, because both have been there for (a long time)," an NDP source said.
The MGEU refused repeated requests for comment this week. "We do not comment on personnel matters..." a spokesman said in an email.
Reached at his home late Tuesday, Dewar refused to comment but said he may have something to say in the coming days. "It's a labour-relations thing, a legal thing. I can't comment," he said.
Buckley could not be reached for comment.
A man who answered the phone Wednesday at the MGEU's Winnipeg office said Buckley had been away "a couple of weeks at least." He could not say when the senior staffer would return.
Dewar represents the MGEU on the board of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. MFL president Kevin Rebeck could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, a government spokesman said Wednesday that "if" Buckley has been suspended, "that in itself would not affect his appointment" to the taxicab board.
In June 2011, the Selinger government also appointed Buckley to help develop a new long-term plan for the Manitoba Development Centre, which cares for adults with mental disabilities.
The government appointed Dewar as a public representative on the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba in 2010 for a four-year term. He also sits on the board of the Workers Compensation Board.