Colin Craig, CTF Prairie Director.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
WINNIPEG -- A former provincial employee says he read 156 novels at work after he was forced into a "do-nothing job" to silence his Crocus fund concerns.
"The last three years I read about a novel a week, so I read 156 novels and I also managed to get through about 45 travel books," Jack Dalgliesh said, referring to a period when he was paid about $93,000 a year.
In 2000, the accountant issued a memo warning the government-promoted Crocus investment fund would run out of money by 2003.
He said Premier Greg Selinger, who was then the finance minister, received his predictions by November 2000.
Dalgliesh sent his job experience claims to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) this week, hoping to trigger an investigation into the Manitoba government's handling of the fund.
Specifically, he questions Selinger's 2003 budget statement that the Crocus fund was strong and legislation to allow for a rollover period for Crocus investors to reinvest instead of cashing out. He said both took place after Selinger was told the fund was doomed.
If no investigation occurs, he plans to make a complaint to the federal justice minister.
Dalgliesh said his early warning was ignored and he was shifted off the Crocus file after it halted trading in 2004. The fund's collapse cost shareholders more than $150 million.
In February 2005, Dalgliesh was transferred from the department of industry to information technology, where he completed a proposal for charging out IT service fees to other government departments. He said his plan went unanswered and he eventually turned to reading full-time.
Dalgliesh said he's seen this fate imposed on several colleagues, who typically quit their fruitless jobs after six to eight weeks.
But Dalgliesh said he needed the job to support his family, including a disabled son.
Colin Craig, CFT Manitoba director, said the complaint raises concerns about how tax dollars are spent.
"It's a huge waste of money and the government needs to ask who else is sitting in do-nothing rooms," Craig said.
In an e-mail, the province said it couldn't safely release detailed Crocus concerns to the public.
"If we went public alleging a private company is in trouble every time a company came to government asking for tax breaks, we'd hurt a lot of good companies," the e-mail states.
The province declined comment on the job claims, stating it doesn't comment on internal human resource matters.