WINNIPEG — City council has voted to ask the province to conduct a wide-ranging public inquiry into controversial city projects and business practices.
Mayor Brian Bowman put forward the idea for a public inquiry after allegations surfaced that the RCMP is investigating secret payments related to the police headquarters project that went tens of millions of dollars over budget.
Court documents revealed RCMP allegations former mayor Sam Katz and former chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl accepted secret payments for showing favour to the company that won the contract for the headquarters project.
Mayor Bowman said the allegations damaged the public’s trust in City Hall and an inquiry would help to rebuild that trust.
However, the motion approved by city council on Wednesday asks the provincial government to commit to conducting the inquiry, something Premier Brian Pallister doesn’t appear anxious to do.
“I think it’s an issue that’s under active police investigation. And I think that it would be appropriate for us to let the facts come to light. And when the facts come to light we’ll act appropriately,” he said to reporters Tuesday.
The lone councillor to vote against the mayor’s public inquiry motion was St. Norbert councillor Janice Lukes.
She said it appeared the idea was put forward for purely political reasons and that a public inquiry should happen after the RCMP’s criminal investigation had ended.
Councillor Marty Morantz pointed out the motion doesn’t call for an inquiry to begin immediately but leaves room for the province to choose when it would start.
The public inquiry the mayor is asking for would include an examination of the over-budget police headquarters project as well as other controversial deals the city was involved in and city practices.
– Global News Reporter, Sean Leslie