The Brandon Sun reached out to the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives for comment on Manitoba Hydro’s impending closure of rural offices, but hit a brick wall with their communications staff.
Press secretary Olivia Billson wrote in emailed correspondence: "It isn’t the role of our MLAs to ‘sell’ Hydro’s decision to close some rural offices."
Pressed further, she added, "It is not the policy of the government to comment on HR matters related to Crowns."
As such, our request for comment from the MLAs of Westman’s affected communities, including Cliff Cullen (Spruce Woods), Doyle Piwniuk (Arthur-Virden), Brad Michaleski (Dauphin), Eileen Clarke (Agassiz) and Blaine Pedersen (Midland) were denied.
On learning of these rejected interview requests, Manitoba NDP MLA for Fort Garry-Riverview James Allum expressed disappointment in his colleagues from across the aisle.
"It’s a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability for local MLAs who represent those areas," he said. "They have to be held accountable by the actions taken here."
While Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative MLAs aren’t talking now, they did speak up when Hydro, under the Manitoba NDP, closed 24 rural Manitoba Hydro offices beginning in 2014.
During question period on March 18, 2014, Lakeside Progressive Conservative MLA Ralph Eichler asked: "Why would this NDP government close down Hydro offices without consultation with the unions, the towns, the RMs or anyone, for that matter?"
"A tired, lazy government is what this government has become," Eichler added. "Maybe if they had listened to hard-working Manitobans, they’d have heard what they had to say about closing down Hydro offices, the impact it would have on the unions, the towns and the RMs. They feel they don’t need to consult with anyone. They seem to know best."
Eichler went on to ask the Minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro to apologize to all Manitobans for "his dictatorship style of governance."
Eichler continues serving Lakeside today and is now the minister of agriculture.
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