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Just say yes, Mr. Schroeder

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Sometimes Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen gets a little too lawyerly at committee hearings, wasting time trying to get obvious stuff on the public record, like he’s deposing someone for a civil suit.

But that habit made for some good theatre at Monday night’s Crown corporations committee meeting where Hydro boss Bob Brennan and Hydro board chairman Vic Schroeder were on the hot seat.

Here’s the set up: McFadyen and the Tories have raised some legitimate concerns over Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s ability to investigate the whistleblower complaints given that Bellringer was on the Hydro board with Schroeder at about the same time the whistleblower was starting her consulting work.

McFadyen wanted to establish that there was overlap there was between the two – even though he knew perfectly well there was because Carol Bellringer has explained the chronology.

At any rate, in his unhurried and slightly contemptuous way, Schroeder just wouldn’t give McFadyen his "yes".

McFadyen: Are you saying this contractor was doing work concurrently, or some of the work she was doing was at the same time as the current Auditor General was on the board of Hydro?

Schroeder: I’m saying that the board of Manitoba Hydro had never heard of this contractor whatsoever when Carol Bellringer had left the board. She left the board in the summer of 2006. At that time, no member of the board of Manitoba Hydro had ever heard of the contractor or anything to do with the contract. Full stop.

McFadyen: That wasn’t the question. The question wasn’t whether they had heard of the contractor. The question was whether there was overlap in time periods between when Ms. Bellringer was on the board and the contractor was doing work for Manitoba Hydro.

Schroeder: The contractor was doing work for Manitoba Hydro as indicated in Mr. Brennan’s slide during 2006 and in September of 2006 was notified the contract would not be extended.

McFadyen: And so what you’re saying then is that Ms. Bellringer was on the board of Manitoba Hydro while the contractor was doing work for Manitoba Hydro.

Schroeder: What I’m saying is the contractor finished her work on the contract by the end of Dec. 2006.

McFadyen: When did she start?

Schroeder: The contract was signed in the spring of 2006. She had started before that.

McFadyen: So Ms. Bellringer was on the board of Hydro while the contractor was doing work for Hydro? Yes or no.

Schroeder: Well, you can look at a calendar as well as I can.

McFadyen: And what would the calendar tell us if we were to look at it?

Schroeder: The contractor worked for us from January 2006 to December 2006 on that contract.

McFadyen: And Ms Bellringer was on the board of Hydro during that period of time?

Schroeder: I told you earlier, she finished her term in July of 2006.
 

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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