Friday, June 03, 2005

Winnipeg Free Press -- The OPPOSITION leader should resign

Biggest scandal in Manitoba's history...and who should resign? The leader of the opposition, of course. Go figure.

Editorial - Mr. Murray should go
Fri Jun 3 2005

THE writing is on the wall in letters too big to ignore -- Stuart Murray should seek a dignified way to step down as Conservative leader so that the party has time before the next election to find a more astute, more credible and more adroit leader than he is proving to be.
Mr. Murray remains today what he was five years ago when he became leader by default -- a bright, personable man with skills that served him well in his previous pursuits in business and promotion.

But politically his arc has been all downhill, and now, when he should be in the catbird's seat over revelations that the Doer government failed to protect the financial interests of 34,000 investors in the Crocus Fund, he is on the defensive, his credibility shattered.

In recent days, Mr. Murray has admitted that three years ago his finance critic had information that could have led to the exposure of questionable management practices at Crocus, including strong suspicions that its evaluations of assets were questionable, which is exactly what Manitoba's auditor general reported this week. But instead of pursuing the leads, he succumbed to partisan pressure and abdicated his duty as opposition leader by calling off further inquiries, declaring his satisfaction with Crocus on the strength of pleadings from Crocus officials including a former key adviser of the previous Conservative administration. He went so far as to humiliate his finance critic by demoting him rather than promoting his efforts to dig deeper.

Mr. Murray now seeks to hold the government's feet to the fire for failing to act on "red flags" raised over Crocus beginning in 2001. He is correct to condemn the government for failing to act on the red flags. But his charges that the government was too cosy with the labour leaders who directed Crocus appear hollow in the context of his admission that as leader of the "business" party he was too easily influenced or perhaps intimidated by business pleadings and threats. At this point, when the government should be quaking at the prospect of facing investor wrath, Premier Gary Doer instead makes headlines by referring Mr. Murray's actions to authorities for investigation.

Mr. Murray has lurched from one error in political judgment to the next, including his secret decision to hire disgraced party functionary Taras Sokolyk as an adviser and his fumbling of the school tax issue in the last election, in which his party's support and his personal support both slipped. Events have served up a series of scandalous lapses by the Doer government -- Hydra House, Seven Oaks School Division property development, adult education, Waverley West -- and yet Mr. Murray has made little of them.

Manitoba needs a premier in waiting if it is to have a government in waiting. Mr. Murray has had his chance -- his chances, in fact -- and has fumbled them. It is time for Mr. Murray to consider a dignified way to pass the torch to a new leader.


Anonymous said...

This is the same Winnipeg Free Press that tried to put the screws to the Jewish Post when they dared to publish criticism of the Crocus Fund in 2002.

This is the same Free Press that is published by Bob Silver, who just happens to be the Chair of Gary Doer's Economic Advisory Committee.

Can you spell bias?

David MacLean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bek816 said...

Let me see... Murray's Finance Critic told him about the problems in crocus fund in 2002, but instead of doing anything about it, he fired his finance critic! Some leader!

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