Province eyes policy to prevent MLAs, political appointees from accepting free Jets tickets
Published Tuesday, May 8, 2012 5:58PM CST
Some Manitobans are upset that provincial cabinet ministers and other political appointees received free Jets tickets from Crown corporations.
"It's a bit of a hard pill to swallow when you hear politicians are getting special access to them," said Colin Craig from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Documents obtained by the organization showed numerous tickets went to government officials and political appointees.
"It's tough for a regular person to afford to go, even if they can find a ticket," said Jason McTavish, a Jets fan.
The province confirmed Minister Andrew Swan received four tickets from Manitoba Public Insurance, while Manitoba Lotteries provided one for Minister Steve Ashton. Minister Gord Mackintosh received four tickets from the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission.
Documents show the MLCC received 440 tickets from the Jets as part of its advertising deal with the team. The MLCC received 10 tickets per game, with most of them in the expensive 100 section in the lower bowl of the MTS Centre.
Besides the four tickets that went to Mackintosh, 66 went to politically-appointed board members, 62 went to MLCC executives and 296 went to head office staff or store managers.
Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers said charities are now slated to get more of the tickets.
"We want that to be a more fair number," said Struthers.
He said a policy will be put in place preventing cabinet ministers, MLAs and board members from accepting free Jets tickets.
And, he said all the ministers have now paid for the tickets.
"What we want to avoid is having certain people elbow Manitobans out of the way," said Struthers.
Critics said the province is only putting the policy into place now because ministers have been caught taking freebies.
"After they got caught, they went into damage control mode. They're still drafting a policy. We still haven't seen it and they scrambled to repay the money," said Hugh McFadyen, PC Party leader.
Premier Greg Selinger denies that.
"We were developing the policy before they came along but the reality is - is that it is important to get it out there at a time when the public discussion was occurring," said Selinger.
The taxpayers federation is asking why the MLCC is even advertising at Jets games when the Crown corporation has a monopoly on some items.
The MLCC said it's part of its sponsorship deal with the team – a lot of it includes promotions about drinking responsibly and getting home safely.
The provincial opposition said the government's new policy on Jets tickets should also be applied to Blue Bombers tickets.
The government disagrees, saying it's a matter of getting access to an event over someone from the general public, suggesting Bomber tickets are usually available while Jets ones are commonly not easy to come by.
- with a report from CTV's Jeff Keele