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Jockey club seeks to have MLA Jim Rondeau removed from office

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The Manitoba Jockey Club made an application in court to remove Jim Rondeau from office.

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The Manitoba Jockey Club made an application in court to remove Jim Rondeau from office.

The Manitoba Jockey Club has added another NDP cabinet minister to its hit list.

The jockey club made an application in court this afternoon to remove Jim Rondeau – minister of Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs -- from office on the grounds that he is alleged to have violated the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Conflict of Interest Act.

That’s the same argument the jockey club made at the end of May to have Finance Minister Stan Struthers removed from office.

Both applications will be heard in court Tuesday morning.

A spokesman for the Manitoba government said the Rondeau application is without merit and will be defended in court.

Jockey Club lawyer Jeff Rath said he’ll be asking the court to schedule a hearing at which the club can make its case against Struthers and Rondeau.

Like it did with the Struthers’ application, the jockey club is alleging that Rondeau used confidential information to develop a plan to have the Red River Exhibition Corporation take over Assiniboia Downs.

The conflict of interest law makes it illegal for any current or former MLA, cabinet minister and senior public servant to use confidential information for personal gain or for the gain of someone else.

For a politician, the penalties include any combination of: removal from office; suspension from office for 90 sitting days of the Legislature; a fine not exceeding $5,000; restitution to the government if there is personal gain.

The legal maneuvering is part of the jockey club’s war with the Selinger government, which is determined to strip the club of more than $5 million it receives from VLT revenue and a special tax on wagering at the track.

On Monday, the club will ask the court for an injunction that would halt the Selinger government’s legislative efforts until the club’s case can be heard during a trial.

The government introduced budget legislation May 30 to strip the jockey club of about $5 million and prevent the club from suing the government or anyone else – Rath says the government is protecting the Red River Ex and its officials – from being sued over breaking its contract with Manitoba Lotteries.

In the Rondeau application, the jockey club’s evidence includes an affidavit of a senior Assiniboia Downs manager who claims Rondeau told her during the 2011 election campaign that the province had been working on a plan for the previous two years to ensure the Red River Ex would be positioned to take over the track from the jockey club.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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