Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Selinger on the hook
How did it happen that one of the most respected cabinet ministers, known for his by-the-book, squeaky-clean image, was the one stuck facing hoards of reporters peppering him with questions about the NDP’s 1999 campaign finances?
It was the biggest scrum I’ve seen in a long time at the Legislature, and Selinger was kind of on his own.
Justice Minister Dave Chomiak was by his side until he slowly got squeezed out by microphones and cameras.
Premier Gary Doer was across the country at a trade corridor meeting in Quebec City.
So that left Selinger stuck explaining how the rebate scheme worked, whether he knew about it before the 2003 meeting and why he was so angry about it that he demanded a letter exonerating him and his campaign.
To his credit, he actually answered a lot of those questions. We had to ask them a few times, but real information emerged from that scrum.
The Premier was asked several batches of similar questions last week during daily scrums, but he treated most of them with disdain.
So when former official agenct Jim Treller blew the whistle and the whole thing reached a critical mass yesterday, Selinger was stuck holding the bag.
How did that happen?
Even though the Tories have been roasting him in Question Period, it seems to me Selinger was one of the few people with the presence of mind in 2003 to know how bad the rebate scheme might look and to raise a little hell about it inside the party.
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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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