Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger takes part in a news conference held by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Wed., Dec. 14, 2011 to announce the football team's new stadium at the University of Manitoba will be called Investors Group Field.
Credits: JASON HALSTEAD/WINNIPEG SUN QMI AGENCY
Following several days of headlines and controversy over the issue, Selinger said "we didn't get it right," and added that all the NDP politicians involved are repaying the Crown corporations and private firms for the highly sought tickets for the reborn Winnipeg team's games - all of which were sold out.
The premier told reporters that the province is introducing "guidelines" for such ticket allocations, to ensure "the old way of doing things" is scrapped.
"We think MLAs and ministers should be treated like everyone else," Selinger said at the legislature.
"Ministers, MLAs and government officials shall not accept complimentary tickets to professional sporting events. And we're directing Crowns to adopt similar policies for their board members."
The MLAs, he said, will pay back the providers for the tickets - if they haven't already done so - or make charitable contributions of equal value. As well, Selinger said, he's asking a legislative assembly management committee "to ensure that our new guidelines apply to all MLAs," regardless of party affiliation.
"We're looking at a new approach on how we handle this thing," he explained.
"Manitobans expect us to hold up to a high conduct of public behaviour."
However, despite apparent efforts by some of his senior members to initially hide the truth from the public on tickets they had been given, the premier said he has no immediate plan to penalize them with any repercussions.
"They are people that I believe are ethical people. And I think they will apologize as required. The first step is to get everything out on the table."
The issue emerged on Tuesday when the Canadian Taxpayers Federation revealed that the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), a Crown entity, had acquired 10 Jets season tickets - amounting to ducats for more than 400 games in all - in return for a $250,000 sponsorship at MTS Centre, the team's home arena. Nearly all of the tickets were given to the company's executives, board members, store managers and the like, while some found their way into the office of cabinet minister Gord Mackintosh.