Defence Minister vetoes Mulcair’s Manitoba flood briefing

The NDP leader hoped to meet with military officials


OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken a chopper tour of flood-stricken southern Manitoba but apparently his government doesn’t see any need for NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to see the disaster zone for himself.

Mulcair is to visit Winnipeg today, just as floodwaters are expected to crest in the southwestern part of the province.

With the help of Premier Greg Selinger’s office, Mulcair had arranged to get a briefing and a tour of a military command post that’s co-ordinating the work of 500 soldiers who’ve been helping fill sandbags and shore up dikes along the swollen Assiniboine River.

Brig. Gen. Christian Juneau, commander of the third Canadian Division, had agreed to the tour, according to Mulcair’s office. All that was needed was a green light from Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.

Late Tuesday, Mulcair was informed that Nicholson had vetoed the visit.

“It’s disheartening to see the Conservatives play politics during a crisis,” said Mulcair spokesman George Smith.

“This was a simple briefing that had been arranged with the military. There was no reason for the minister to go out of his way and intervene.”

A spokeswoman for Nicholson said the government has nixed all tours for the time being.

“The next 48 hours are key to dealing with the Manitoba flood as it is expected to push through Portage La Prairie,” Johanna Quinney said in an email.

“As a result, no tours will be approved at this time so our men and women on the ground can focus all their efforts (on) keeping Manitobans and their properties safe during this crucial time.”

There were no similar qualms about disrupting crucial efforts to prepare for the crest on Sunday, when the prime minister took a 20-minute helicopter tour of the flood zone, accompanied by Selinger and local MPs.

“Obviously, we are here to express our solidarity with people, as I know everybody is very concerned about the situation,” Harper said after a briefing with emergency personnel at Brandon City Hall.

Selinger’s NDP government has welcomed politicians of all partisan stripes who want to see the extent of the crisis for themselves. But the premier refused Wednesday to get dragged into a partisan scuffle over Mulcair’s cancelled tour.

“The federal government makes its own decisions about who they can allow to be here,” Selinger said during a media briefing.

“We think everybody needs to understand the gravity of the situation but … we’re focusing on making sure we’re in a position to make the best decisions as rapidly as possible to protect people and property.”

Selinger declared a state of emergency last Friday and asked for military assistance to help communities at risk of being submerged to prepare for the floodwater crest.

This summer’s flood, triggered by torrential rain and water pouring in from Saskatchewan, could break records set during one of Manitoba’s worst floods in 2011.


Defence Minister vetoes Mulcair’s Manitoba flood briefing

  1. While I’m sure that Mulcair would use this as an opportunity to complain that the Government wasn’t doing enough to help with the flood relief (all opposition MP’s would do it)….

    The fact remains, Mulcair is the Official opposition leader, and he needs to be provided the opportunity to have a look. Not allowing him to do so was just petty; though I’m sure the government also understands that it would only serve the purpose of given Mulcair a sound bite, which is why they put the kibosh on it.

    Not impressed by that move.

    • Disagree. This is a military operation at the very peak of the crisis, they need all the resources they can get. They don’t need to be chauffeuring around some politician who’s just looking for a photo-op, people’s houses and lives are on the line here. Muclair’s free to visit the affected areas, as is anybody. He just shouldn’t be trying to use military resources to do so.

      But I will say that he deserves credit for showing concern, which is more than Trudeau’s done.

      • So you agree, Harper was only there for a photo op wearing a military jacket he didn’t do anything to earn, and yes If Harper and Mulcair wer’nt there to get there hands dirty, than they were only there, strictly politicking. So Trudeau did the right thing, he didn’t use this moment to play politics. That’s all any of them had to do was, just send out a presser showing a little solidarity and compassion to the people, the last thing the people of Manitoba need, is for this disaster to get political.

        • No, I don’t agree with your assessment.

          Harper is the PM, it is his DUTY to be there and show support, as well as offer it.

          Mulcair, is the leader of the opposition, and as the Government in waiting (cringe) he should be provided the opportunity to see what is going on. It was disrepectful not to allow him the chance.

          As for Trudeau, he is too busy flashing his smile, raising money, and poaching socialists from the NDP to run as Liberals. He wouldn’t really understand any of it in any event… no real loss there.

          • DUTY, every time your guy decides to do DUTY (a photo op), he has a motorcade of caddies, not sure how many caddies, about 7 or 8 maybe and his gold plated taxpayers armored caddy(to go to Manitoba, thats a bit much), and then harper decides go all army on us with his George Bush(military garb)look and the closets he(harper)has ever been to the military in his life is get a GI Joe doll for a Xmas gift. Yes, it really makes me feel good to know the person at the helm has never done anything in his life other than attack people when its convenient for him and work in a mailroom of an oil company.

  2. Im not a big fan of the dippers, but this was pretty churlish of the harper cons, having said that, I don’t know why Mulcair couldn’t find a camera crew to tag along with him, recording him filling sand bags helping the citizens affected and in need by the flooding in the region. This churlish behavior by Steve and his cronies will eventually catch up with them, the party(cons)that still thinks KARMA is just a word and not a reality.