Selinger Apologizes for Ticket Scandal, Orders Refunds

Premier Greg Selinger addresses the media on the government's complimentary ticket policy during a news conference on Friday, May 11, 2012. (DARRIN BAUMING / CHRISD.CA)

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger apologized and took responsibility Friday for the ticketing scandal plaguing the legislature, after 13 MLAs accepted complimentary tickets to sporting events from Crown corporations.

“There has been perhaps no hotter ticket in town than our Winnipeg Jets,” Selinger said. “Historically MLAs and ministers, the directors and executives and staff of Crown corporations, charitable or community organizations, and indeed some of our colleagues in the media have attended Winnipeg Jets games using complimentary tickets from Manitoba’s Crown corporations.”

In a rare 4 p.m. news conference, Selinger said the practice of accepting complimentary tickets has been permitted under existing conflict of interest rules.

“This week we introduced new guidelines because we think that MLAs and ministers should be treated like everyone else. Moving forward, ministers, MLAs, and government officials shall not accept complimentary tickets to professional sporting events, and we’ve directed Crowns to adopt similar policies for their board members.”

The new rules also apply to Winnipeg Blue Bombers tickets, which Crowns also make available to ministers each season.

Selinger ordered any ministers who accepted complimentary tickets to repay their value.

Documents released Tuesday by the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation showed the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission gave away hundreds of tickets it received from an advertising partnership in MTS Centre.

“I’m saying on behalf of the government that I didn’t get it right, and we all didn’t get it right,” Selinger said.

— With files from Darrin Bauming