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Costly dinner? OK, Shampoo? The horror

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The NDP spent $20,000 taxpayer dollars to send provincial government and agency staff to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Province address last December. While just on the surface this use of tax dollars is galling enough, it becomes particularly reprehensible considering the comments of Assistant Deputy Minister of Child and Family Services Jennifer Rattray, made in a radio interview last month. Rattray was asked about the NDP’s despicable treatment of Osborne House.

While the NDP had been sounding off about their vague concerns about Osborne House for years, when probed, Rattray only had this to say:

“Looking at things like excessive spending, $2,600 for instance in Peace Begins at Home buttons, provided free by the province, and hundreds of dollars for hair products when there were boatloads of donated hair products in warehouses. Some irregularities that would lead to serious concerns.”

That’s $3,000. Is this the “financial mismanagement” that the NDP felt warranted shutting down what was the most successful women’s shelter in Manitoba, on even running a surplus? Osborne House’s board responded that the buttons were bought as part of a private educational grant — not public monies — and much of the warehoused hair products was unsuitable for their clients. Caring women’s shelter over the coals for buttons and shampoo. So much for the compassionate and big-picture NDP we’ve heard so much about.

Meanwhile, Manitobans continue to be appalled by horror stories coming from Child and Family Services. Last week a young girl was taken off of life support after being brutally beaten while staying unsupervised, in a downtown hotel as a ward of CFS. This was the same hotel that Tina Fontaine ran away from–also a ward of the same CFS agency. Yet we’ve heard nothing about CFS Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross investigating the agency that was responsible for the safety of those two girls. The NDP have, repeatedly over 15 years, broken promises to move their wards from hotels. It would seem saving a few dollars by relying on unsuitable shampoo was a higher priority than protecting young lives for the NDP.

Manitoba is generally known as an extremely compassionate and generous community. We routinely top the nation as to the percentage of taxpayers giving to charities and volunteering for worthwhile causes. This is one of the reasons a private donation and volunteer-dependent women’s shelter like Osborne House was able to thrive, until shuttered by the NDP.

It seems a hapless self absorbed NDP have lost their moral compass when it comes to the most vulnerable in our society. Like a plot out of Dickens, the NDP pinch pennies when it comes to our poor and marginalized. But, when it comes to fancy dinners to hear the premier speak, no price tag is too hight too pack a room. But this sad solace for Osborne House, Tina Fontaine and Phoenix Sinclair–none of them made it to hear Greg Selinger’s $20,000 speech.

– Graham Lane is the chair of Manitoba Forward, a policy group advocating a more vibrant and prosperous Manitoba.

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