September 29, 2016 - 5:59 AM
WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government is cancelling a plan to have former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge review the province's balanced-budget law.
The move is the latest in a series of Tory reviews or cancellations of pre-election promises made by the previous NDP government which Pallister has labelled expensive and desperate.
"David Dodge is a fine guy, but we don't need David Dodge to help us at this juncture," Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday.
"We believe it's Manitoba's future, it's Manitoba's plan and Manitobans should have a say in it."
Since winning the April election and ending 17 years of NDP rule in the province, Pallister's Progressive Conservatives have launched a review of government programs and NDP commitments, including a plan to hire former Quebec premier Jean Charest to examine rail-line relocation in Winnipeg.
Pallister said Charest was in a position to collect money for the cancelled project, but did not do so.
"The previous government committed to pay him tens of thousands of dollars and he returned the cheque," Pallister said.
"He said he would not accept the money because he had not done the work. I thanked him for that."
Pallister's staff later clarified that Charest had not been given a cheque, but had instead foregone invoicing the government for money he was entitled to.
The decision to cancel Dodge's review of legislation that penalized cabinet ministers for running deficits will not cost taxpayers money because there was never a formal agreement signed, Pallister said.
The NDP accused Pallister of cancelling important projects such as the rail-line relocation out of political spite.
"Winnipeggers have been discussing railway relocation for decades and the time was right to partner with the city and federal governments, both of which are interested in this project," Rachel Morgan, NDP caucus spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
The Tories campaigned on a promise to keep a lid on spending growth and eventually put a stop to a string of deficits that started in 2009. A value-for-money review is being conducted across government and some major promises made by the former government are in limbo.
Among the big-ticket items is a $15-million pledge for an Inuit art centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, promised by former premier Greg Selinger last November.
Pallister called the art centre one of many "excellent" projects that have merit, but the government has not yet decided whether to fulfil that commitment.
"Quite frankly, there are too many (projects) for us to say yes to this year. So as we move forward and as we do our performance-review exercise ... we'll get, I think, valuable input as to how we structure capital and operational budgets appropriately."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016