Todd cries foul
Former minister lashes out at CBC

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 09/00) - "I have to get on with my life," says John Todd. "I just want to be left alone."

The former territorial cabinet minister says he has been the target of a politically motivated police investigation and biased reporting by CBC North reporter Lee Selleck.

Former Finance Minister John Todd is calling for the RCMP to conclude its investigation of him one way or the other.

The RCMP confirmed this week Todd is being investigated, but would provide no details of the investigation.

"It is ongoing," said Cpl. Darcy Fleury of G Division's commercial crime section of the investigation of Todd.

Fleury said the investigation of Todd was part of a multi-year investigation of the GNWT. He said more details may be available in "a couple of weeks."

Todd said he has yet to be contacted by the RCMP, but said business associates of his have been interviewed by investigators.

"I want the RCMP to take the steps that are necessary to take this file to point where we know one way or the other what has to be done," said Todd. "...All I'm saying is this thing has been going on for three years. I've got to get on with my life here."

Todd said he was not contacted by the CBC for comment for a report by Selleck televised Monday night that questioned his involvement in the awarding of a 1995 government fuel supply contract. The next item on the same newscast was a brief mention that Todd was being investigated by the RCMP.

A CBC radio report the following morning indicated the police investigation of Todd was linked to the awarding of the fuel contract.

"(Selleck) has gone out of his way through a series of articles, through innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations to try to smear me and I'm not happy about it," said Todd.

The CBC reports were based on a recently released independent report on the 1995 deal. Its author, lawyer Brian Wallace, concluded there was no foul play by the government or those bidding on the contract.

CBC North's chief journalist Mike Linder said he did not know whether Todd had been contacted for comment before the stories had run. Linder said comments Todd has consistently made in the past on the deal -- that he had no involvement in it -- were included.

"At some point when we've reported and reported and reported on these issues ... I think the proper thing to do is to put this information out into the public," said Linder.

At the time the RCMP investigation began, Todd was Minister of Finance of a government determined to rein in spending. Relations between the government and the Union of Northern Workers, which represents government employees, were at an all-time low.

"I believe ... there was discussions in a private room in Hay River that the way to get at the Finance Minister who is making all these difficult cuts was to try to find the means to discredit him," Todd said.

He said those discussions led to a member of the union executive laying a complaint with the RCMP, sparking the three-year investigation.

Union spokesperson Fredrick Bayer said he was not aware of a union member complaining about Todd to the RCMP but said it was "very possible" a member could have laid such a complaint.

Bayer said the union has no further comment on the issue, considering it a matter between Todd and the RCMP.

Calls to Selleck were not returned by deadline.