An election financing scandal with the potential of disqualifying all NDP-endorsed candidates in the Winnipeg civic election has erupted in Mynarski ward.
Comments made by NDP candidate Ross Eadie at an all-candidates forum on Monday have prompted a formal complaint to Elections Manitoba. The charges involve such a serious breach of election laws that any investigation must also include everyone running under the NDP banner in the election.
It will be the first test of Elections Manitoba since the retirement last April of former chief electoral officer Richard Balasko who helped the NDP cover up a scheme by the party during the provincial election of 1999 to file phony candidate expense forms and fraudulently collect rebates from the public purse.
During the all-candidates' forum at the Norquay Community Centre, Eadie...well, why don't we let an eyewitness tell the story.
AlexLV, as he calls himself, posted this play by play on the Winnipeg Free Press website Wednesday night:
Posted by: AlexLV
September 29, 2010 at 6:36 PM
Ross Eadie disrespected the people of point douglas and his fellow candidates at the debate on Monday. I was sent to this debate to cover it for a local community paper...Eadie's outburst followed a lot of theatrics, screaming and shaking, but it began when a question was posed to Polsky about party politics in city hall.
Eadie interrupted the candidates response by standing and yelling at the top of his lungs that he wouldn't have been able to run without the financial support of the NDP, but once he was elected he would drop his NDP ties.
Here's the problem---for Eadie and potentially all NDP-endorsed candidates. The Municipal Conflict of Interest and Campaign Financing Act passed one year ago (on October 8, 2009, to be exact) bans financial contributions from unions, organizations and political parties. Only individuals living in Manitoba can "make a contribution to a registered candidate."
If Eadie has been getting any sort of contribution to his campaign from the NDP, he's in big trouble.
But, then, Ross Eadie is no stranger to scandal and controversy. Remember O'Learygate?
O'Learygate, the quick summary:
In 2005, the Seven Oaks School Division, whose chairman was the former NDP campaign manager, Brian O'Leary (hence the name of the scandal), decided to go into land speculation to raise money for a new school (which had been rejected by the Public Schools Finance Board). This was illegal since the law stated school monies could only be used for school purposes which does not and never did include land speculation. So the school division, with Ross Eadie sitting as a trustee, bought land and subdivided it without telling the Schools Finance Board.
A local resident caught on and reported them to the Education Minister, who proceeded to a) lie to the whistleblower, then b) stall until the school division could hold a panic meeting to backdate documents to authorize the secret land dealing.
The provincial auditor was called in to investigate and she determined the school division lost $300,000 on the land development, but if you pretended the empty lot they were left with was an invisible school filled with invisible children, then you could pretend it was worth $800,000 to the school division and thus, presto, she said they made a profit.
Ross Eadie the school trustee has never explained what he knew about the illegal land development that lost the school division 300G's.
But now that AlexLV has filed a formal complaint with the elections organizers, he may have to explain what contributions he's been receiving from the NDP that allow him to run for city council.
Eadie responded on the FP website to comments about his behaviour but, pointedly, did not deny what he said about financial support from the NDP.
By all appearances, the Norquay all-candidates' forum was, before it blew up in their faces, supposed to be a tidy set-up to knock Jenny Motkaluk out of contention.
First the organizers failed to invite Motkaluk formally, citing, instead, a pro forma notification that the event was taking place, as the alleged invitation. Then the organizers made public comments disparaging Moktaluk and threatening to run their own campaign against her.
Who was behind this set-up?
Well....look what we find when we scan Ross Eadie's webpage.
First on the Supporters list is ... Sel Burrows, the former chairman of the Point Douglas Residents Committee and the former media contact for Steve Ashton when he was running as leader of the NDP in Manitoba.
"Ross Eadie has the best understanding of how to prevent crime in the North End." declared Burrows.
And who is the current executive director of the Point Douglas Residents Committee, you ask?
Why, government employee Chris(tine) McCarville. As the local newsletter put it:
"Chris McCarville was introduced as the new Executive Director, replacing Karen Peters who is home with her new daughter. Chris has extensive experience in community development, having worked as a board and staff member for LITE and as a co-op development officer with the Province of Manitoba. "
The candidates' forum degenerated into farce when Eadie wouldn't stop interrupting and speaking. Moderator Rob Galston finally had enough. He threw down his microphone and stormed out.
Eadie's response came in a comment posted with the Free Press last night:
"Either the moderator was to green to know how to run a forum, or he was in the camp of one of the candidates."
" At least I did not create a big lie around being invited."
A gentleman to the end.
The meeting was covered by both the NDP and the Winnipeg Free Press whose subsequent stories had nothing about Eadie's explosive revelation. Nor did they mention this slice of life in the neighbourhood which was reported belatedly in the FP comments by another attendee:
Posted by: email@example.com
September 29, 2010 at 7:32 PM
I found the side show of entertainment offered very interesting. Outside the back door of the gymnasium, we had banging on the door, screaming, and when we went outside at the 1/2 time break, being bombarded by stones, with one hitting one of thr candidates and my wife's car that was parked there, all adding to the character of the area.