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This article was published 14/5/2012 (3367 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Finance Minister Stan Struthers formally apologized Monday for neglecting to say he was one of the 15,004 people at the MTS Centre on Dec. 23 to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.
The apology, made in a hushed legislative chamber at the start of question period, marks the second week the Jets ticket affair has dogged the Selinger government.
But the NDP now hopes it can turn the corner on its political problems by spreading some of the focus to the opposition benches by asking the province's conflict of interest commissioner Ron Perozzo to come up with guidelines on the acceptance of tickets by all MLAs.
For the Progressive Conservatives, the issue is about ending the NDP's use of free tickets supplied by Crown corporations or publicly funded organizations such as Red River College.
"None of our MLAs took tickets at public expense," PC Leader Hugh McFadyen said.
Struthers, who last week had been the lead minister on crafting the NDP's new complimentary ticket policy, said he inadvertently misled the opposition in a budget estimates meeting on Wednesday when he did not admit he got a free ticket from Red River College to the Dec. 23 game against the Penguins.
"I went to three games," Struthers initially said under Tory questioning last week. "I went to three games because I'm a, I guess, a small player in a consortium of season-ticket holders. So I managed to get drawn for three games.
"I attended against the Washington Capitals before Christmas. I attended New Year's with my son (to a game) against the Toronto Maple Leafs, my former team. I want to make it very clear that would be my former team, the Leafs, and we cheered for the Winnipeg Jets. And then we went to the game later on in the season in which the Jets, still in the playoff hunt, picked off the Florida Panthers, 7-0, and my son high-fived with everybody up in our section, up in the upper section there."
The humiliation of Struthers' apology isn't enough for the Tories. They want Speaker Daryl Reid to impose a sanction against him.
"There should be some ramifications," Tory MLA Ron Schuler said. "He should have to do some kinds of restitution. I think he should look into the bottom of his heart and see what it should be. Maybe it is volunteering for a non-profit organization."
NDP house leader Jennifer Howard said Struthers' apology is sufficient.
Howard also said the NDP, with Perozzo's help, will come up with a policy for all MLAs and Crown corporations on how sports tickets -- Crowns obtain them through game sponsorships and advertising -- are to be disbursed.
All ministers who got free tickets through Crown corporations have repaid the Crowns directly for their tickets. For ministers who got a free ticket from another source, they have repaid or are in the process of repaying the cost of the ticket or are contributing in kind to a charity of their choice.
Manitoba Home Builders' Association president Mike Moore said the ticket affair has been blown out of proportion. The MHBA supplied tickets to six cabinet ministers.
"It's unfortunate," Moore said. "It now has unsavoury overtones. I really do believe that a very innocent and friendly gesture has been overblown, but I guess this suspicious nature is an everyday occurrence in our society."
Premier Greg Selinger has already said his MLAs will no longer accept pro sport ticket offers from Crown corporations, businesses and unions, even if they pay for them.
Finance Minister Stan Struthers' mea culpa
"I am writing to correct the record regarding statements that I made during the Committee of Supply meeting on Wednesday, May 9. I also wish to offer my unreserved apology to you for any confusion which has arisen due to these statements.
"As you know, there was a great deal of discussion last week regarding the distribution of tickets by Manitoba's Crown corporations. I was asked about this several times in question period by you and your colleagues and again by members of the media.
"It was in this context that I replied to your questions during the estimates process and it was in this context that I inadvertently misled the House last Wednesday.
"Contrary to the information that I provided to you last week, I want to make it clear that I have also attended:
-- One Jets game with Red River College.
-- Two Jets games with the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.
-- One Jets game with a ticket from a personal acquaintance.
"The information that I put on the record was incorrect. For this I offer my sincere apologies.
"I have since declared with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner that I attended with the Manitoba Home Builders' Association and the Red River College. Further, I have made arrangements to make a charitable donation to the Canadian Diabetes Association in the value of these tickets.
"The premier has made it clear that the old way of distributing tickets is not acceptable. That is why this week we introduced new guidelines to ensure that MLAs and ministers are treated like everyone else when it comes to professional sporting events.
"I have apologized to the premier for the misunderstanding and I will further correct the record officially in the house."
Minister of Finance