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Couple quick thoughts on new questions now swirling around how the NDP filed their campaign spending returns in 1999.

If you read today’s story, you’ll know the Tories have dug up some interesting letters from back in the day.

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Some of those letters were tabled last night at a rare sitting of the legislative affairs committee where the Tories got an equally rare chance to ask a few questions of Chief Electoral Officer Richard Balasko.

He answered a couple of them, but mostly he took shelter in legislation that says he can’t talk about investigations Elections Manitoba undertakes.

He said that a lot. But at least we heard his voice. He never, ever speaks to reporters.

We might have heard more from him – the Tories had a long list of questions about why the NDP was never charged under the Elections Finance Act but instead were allowed to quietly repay $76,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

But the NDP voted to close the committee at 8 p.m. after just a couple of hours. Most of us were expecting to be there until at least 10 p.m.

There’s always next year, I guess.

One more interesting thing: As of right now, you cannot see any of the individual candidate returns from 1999, the ones that sparked all this controversy. On the Elections Manitoba site, when you click on 1999, you get this big error message.

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80004005'
[Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] '(unknown)' is not a valid path. Make sure that the path name is spelled correctly and that you are connected to the server on which the file resides. /apps/election_returns/candidates/37Gen/99FIN.asp, line 12

Any other election year – 2003, 1995, 2007 – all the paperwork from every candidate is visible.

Just saying.

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