The Manitoba Liberals are asking the auditor general and civil service commissioner to look into allegations the Progressive Conservatives broke the rules and had government employees labouring on the 2019 provincial election campaign during work time.
Its taken 18 months to get the government to release emails indicating staff were working on the snap election campaign that was called a year ahead of schedule by then-premier Brian Pallister, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Wednesday.
The information request was made after June 2020, when the Free Press reported Pallisters director of stakeholder relations, Michael Kowalson, was ordered by the premier to refund taxpayers the money Kowalson made while working on the side for the federal campaign of Conservative MP Marty Morantz.
The Liberals were seeking to find out if Kowalson and other government staff were also working for the PCs on the provincial election campaign.
Lamont told reporters the Liberals received copies of emails from Kowalson to provincial government employees, including Jordan Sisson, who is now Premier Heather Stefansons chief of staff. The emails were sent to government employees during work hours and discussed the campaign and logistics.
Had people been following the rules, there wouldve been none, said Lamont. If the PCs decided to put their party organizers on the public payroll, Manitobans deserve to know about it.
Deputy premier Cliff Cullen said in a prepared statement Kowalson no longer works for the government, has apologized, paid back the money earned during the time he also spent working on a federal campaign, and Sisson is making sure it wont happen again.
As a result, the chief of staff has issued directives to staff outlining the rules of conduct for executive council employees to ensure all protocols are followed.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.