Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister confirmed on Tuesday he hired a private investigator to gather information on NDP leader Wab Kinew in advance of the 2019 provincial election, a move one political expert says compromises the integrity of the province’s democracy.
Pallister confirmed the news when asked during a news conference on Tuesday.
“When we had information brought to us about a criminal record that the NDP had covered up, and that their leadership candidate Wab Kinew had covered it up. We didn’t take it at face value.”
In Kinew’s 2017 memoir, he revealed he had some run-ins with the law in his early 20s, offences for which he has since received pardons.
Later, it was learned that two issues were not mentioned in his book. Pallister said he wanted to get the facts about Kinew’s past.
“So, we had a criminal record check done and I think that’s an important thing to do. I think research matters.”
Kinew responded to the premier’s comments, saying the tactics being used reflects poorly on the party.
“It’s very desperate, it’s not true, and I think this is what we see every time the premier gets in trouble, he tries to attack me,” he said.
Kinew said he hasn’t filed a complaint.
Neil McArthur is the director of the centre for professional and applied ethics at the University of Manitoba, and he specializes in political philosophy.
He said information outside of the public domain that requires the hiring of an investigator should be off-limits.
“The idea that our politicians, including our premier, will be snooping around in each other’s secret business or private business, I think that just undermines the functioning of our democracy.”
Pallister said it was his obligation to research his opposition, and said when you become a public official, your life in on display.
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