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This article was published 15/5/2012 (3366 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MANITOBA'S Opposition Conservatives called on Innovation, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak on Tuesday to apologize for his role in the Jets tickets affair.
The ticket saga, now in its second week, dominated talk at the legislature a day after Finance Minister Stan Struthers apologized for what he called inadvertently misleading the legislature on the number of Jets tickets he got from public and private sources.
But the Progressive Conservatives, smelling blood, said Premier Greg Selinger had also said Chomiak would apologize. Chomiak was sick and not in the House on Tuesday.
"Will Dave Chomiak apologize or won't he? Or is there a man overboard? Is there a division in cabinet on this issue?" asked Tory MLA Ron Schuler, who started asking questions March 21 about how free Jets tickets were disbursed by provincial Crown corporations, which acquire tickets through sponsorship and advertising deals with the Jets and the MTS Centre.
"Dave Chomiak says, 'I don't have to apologize.' The premier says, 'Yes, you do.' One of them has to blink. Right now, we seem to have a minister who's offside with his premier."
But Selinger said the Tories are just ragging the puck on the issue, and he only said he expected his ministers to do the "right thing."
He said Chomiak has no reason to apologize as he's paid for tickets supplied by Tundra Oil for a Feb. 14 game by making a donation in kind to charity.
"Dave repaid the cost of his tickets as charitable donation," Selinger said. "I think that's the right thing for him to do."
Selinger also said he's told his MLAs not to accept free tickets for sports events at all, no matter who's offering. The NDP will ask conflict of interest commissioner Ron Perozzo to come up with guidelines for all MLAs.
The issue of how free sports tickets are disbursed was first raised in May 2000 in an auditor general's report into alleged financial irregularities at Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, but no general policy was created.
Selinger also called on Tory MLAs to declare who among them got free Jets tickets, just as his MLAs have done, even if the ticket value is below $250. (All MLAs have to disclose gifts valued at more than $250.)
"We expect all members of the legislature, including members of the opposition, to do the same thing, not to hide behind the rules like they're doing right now," Selinger said.
"They were demanding everybody disclose everything, but they're not demanding that of themselves. Is that the definition of hypocrisy? Yes, it is."
The Tories argue none of them accepted a free ticket from a publicly funded organization.