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Jets tickets claimed by city councillors

05/16/2012 10:20 EDT | Updated 07/16/2012 05:12 EDT

The list of elected officials who received free tickets to see the Jets is growing.

CBC News has now confirmed four City of Winnipeg councillors were given free tickets to see the NHL team this past season.

Couns. Jeff Browaty and Paula Havixbeck admit they were given tickets by Canad Inns.

Coun. Russ Wyatt received three of Mayor Sam Katz's personal tickets, while Coun. Brian Mayes got two from Katz.

Browaty said he received four tickets in total and disclosed that to the city clerk on Monday. He doesn't think receiving free tickets is an issue, so long as they aren't paid for with tax dollars.

“Where I do have issue is where you use government or Crown money to purchase the tickets. I don't feel that's appropriate," he said.

"What is OK is, I mean, civic officials in the course of doing business will go to functions with people in the private sector.”

Conflict questions about politicians receiving Jets tickets arose last week when it came to light that several Manitoba MLAs had taken in free games, courtesy of tickets from private companies or Crown agencies.

The latter received tickets in exchange for buying ads at Jets games, then passed the tickets onto some cabinet ministers —ministers responsible for funding the utility.

The government has tried to quell the controversy by establishing new policy that would forbid politicians from accepting any tickets to pro sports events.

In the wake of that, an e-mail was distributed to all Winnipeg city councillors reminding them of the Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act and how it applies towards sporting tickets. It states that all gifts of more than $250 must be declared.

That prompted Havixbeck this week to declare the three tickets she received.

“I just declared them recently and that was mostly because I didn't realize how much they were worth. So, just to be on the safe side I decided to declare them," she said.

Katz cancelling tickets

Katz said Wednesday that his office is dealing with the controversy by no longer buying tickets.

For two decades, the mayor's office has bought four season tickets to Blue Bombers games, Goldeyes, the Manitoba Moose and now the Jets, along with tickets to cultural and entertainment events.

Those would then be given away.

But in light of the controversy, Katz has announced his office will no longer buy tickets to any of those events.

"Trying to differentiate [the appearance of controversy] between a $10 ticket and a $30 ticket and $170 ticket, it can't be done," he said.

His office has not renewed its season tickets for the next Jets season and will return the Blue Bomber tickets.

Katz also has personal tickets that he has given to people and said he will continue to do that.

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