As chair of the Public Utilities Board, I was in a position to understand the many levers the NDP government has to compel Crown corporations to pursue the party’s ideology and how that self-serving ideology affects ratepayers.
I came slowly to the realization the NDP sees all its departments, Crown corporations, and so-called arms length agencies as instruments to do its bidding.
So, when I read in the news about the problems of Osborne House, I was disappointed but, sadly, not surprised.
For the past 30 years, Osborne House had been one of the few glimmers of hope in a province fraught with domestic violence, severe family dysfunction, and rampant substance abuse. With an absence of a strong safety net for abused women and children, the privately-run woman’s shelter stepped up. Osborne House provided a safe, comfortable home for the most vulnerable among us.
Barbara Judt, the shelter’s deposed CEO, provided a level of care at the shelter that became famous among the helping agencies across the province. The government’s own records must show Osborne House was able to provide more counselling hours per client and an abundance of amenities through operating a sophisticated fundraising and donation of goods strategy.
But everything changed in the summer of 2013. By now, almost everyone is well familiar of Deputy Premier eEric Robinson’s public tirade against the organization – defining them as “do-good white people.” that, if elected they would increase funding to women’s shelters like Osborne House.
Asked to appear with then PC-leader McFayden in a political campaign announcement, and without previous political involvements and wanting to help ensure the survival of Osborne House, Judt agreed. That’s when things changed for Judt and the then still successful privately-run women’s shelter.
In private, the NDP has spent years appropriating political capital though agancies, departments, Crown corporations and the government-funded not-for-profit sector. I saw it up close at PUB, and also when on the board of St.Amant. I suspect the board of Osborne House was pushed aside so the NDP could put in their own people, better to do their partisan bidding. One would think the care of abused women and children would come first.
-Lane is a retired chartered accountant and former PUB and St.Amant chair. He leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca).
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