PCs smash Liberals who say they gave special treatment when giving grants

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The Progressive Conservatives are rejecting a suggestion by the Manitoba Liberals that the government would give preferential treatment to a company when providing provincial COVID-19 relief funds.

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On Friday, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the provincial government giving $500,000 to GoodLocal, a company co-founded by current Fort Whyte PC candidate Obby Khan, was a little suspicious.

“It seems a little extraordinary for someone who has endorsed [Premier] Heather Stefanson and shows up for PCs to get $500,000,” Lamont said Friday. “And in a grant, with a marketing budget attached within a year of running for the PC party.”

On December 3, 2020, Khan’s company secured $50,000 from the province, then two weeks later the government announced $1.5 million for “buy local” programs across Manitoba. In the initial press release, GoodLocal is mentioned, but the total dollar value the company received was not specified. Thanks to a Freedom of Information request filed by the Liberals, it was revealed that Khan’s company had secured $500,000 in funding.

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The province confirmed this in a statement provided to the Winnipeg Sun. The Manitoba government has provided a total of $50 million in funding to Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to help support business recovery efforts.

“Dougald Lamont’s assertion that this funding was provided to encourage a local business owner to run for a sitting premier is nonsense,” a provincial spokesperson said.

Khan said in a press release that he doesn’t even think about politics in 2020.

“As a small business owner myself, I wanted to help local businesses in Manitoba stay afloat and provide an alternative to internet shopping,” he said.

According to a PC press release, GoodLocal.ca has helped over $1.2 million in sales go directly to local businesses and helped 450 businesses.

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The Manitoba Chamber of Commerce says that when GoodLocal launched in 2020, it had 38 vendors and $40,000 in sales. It grew to 388 vendors and nearly $850,000 in sales for those vendors. Funding to GoodLocal has enabled the company to create 27 jobs, nine of them full-time, the chamber says.

Lamont asked if there were other businesses that could have done what Khan’s GoodLocal can do, which is to help connect local businesses and make local shopping easier. Lamont added that the government has not been fair in handing out grants, citing many other businesses that have struggled financially due to the pandemic.

The province says it has provided more than $650 million in funding to more than 38,000 businesses affected by the pandemic.

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Twitter: @steltsy94

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