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Winnipeg Sun | 01Dec2012 | Tom Brodbeck

Trouble in Canadian Museum for Human Rights Wonderland?
Staff disappearing at alarming rate; new ones hired even more quickly

Staff at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights may be dropping like flies. But don’t worry, CMHR brass are replacing them as fast -- or faster -- than they’re leaving. Since 2008, 37 museum staff have either been fired or voluntarily left the CMHR.

They’ve all since been replaced, though. And within the next several weeks, the museum is expected to hit a record 80 employees, even though the facility won’t be open for at least another two years.

Your tax dollars hard at work.

Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy as you drive through Winnipeg’s donkey-path roads?

Museum officials have had to explain in recent days why about half their staff have either been fired or chosen to quit over the past four years.

The CMHR confirmed 37 permanent staff and term employees were either fired, quit or simply finished their term and their contracts were not renewed.

In responding to reports some disgruntled staff have left because of a poisonous work environment -- and because of complaints about watered down museum content that will now ignore some past human atrocities -- CMHR CEO Stuart Murray released this statement on Friday:

“We have a very challenging job to carry out on a very demanding timeline,” said Murray. “I cannot afford to carry any staff who are not 100% committed to this project and our vision for it.”

Oh, trouble in Museum Wonderland?

Unfortunately for taxpayers, that has not translated into operational savings for them. Everyone who quit or got pink slips has either been replaced, or another position has been created in their place.

Despite all the firings and resignations, the number of staff at the museum went from 50 as of March 31, 2011, to 68 today.

And they’re hiring more. The museum is currently advertising for 12 new positions, including a new volunteer services coordinator, a national student program coordinator and another executive assistant.

CMHR’s operating budget continues to grow. According to the CMHR’s most recent financial statements, the museum spent a staggering $10.9 million last year, up from $10.3 million the previous year. The museum also posted a deficit of $66,000 last year. In other words, they spend more than they received from taxpayers in their annual grant.

They can’t stay within their budget now, and they’re not even open yet. Imagine once they’re fully staffed and operational?

“Most of the 12 positions we are now advertising are new, with only a few who are filling leaves or vacant spots,” museum spokeswoman Angela Cassie told the Sun. “More new positions will be added as we move towards inauguration.”


Where in the world is Stuart Murray?

 While Canadian Museum for Human Rights CEO Stuart Murray has been busy firing staff who are not “100%” on board with the program, he’s also been sticking taxpayers with some pretty hefty travel bills of late, too.

We’ve been told it’s of paramount importance that taxpayers pay for the extensive travel costs of the museum’s CEO because he needs to connect with key groups and individuals around the world in order to make our museum back in Winnipeg a great success.

Murray racked up $9,180 in travel costs in the second quarter of this year -- July to September.

He spent a week in Kyiv, Ukraine and Berlin, Germany in July, charging taxpayers $5,688 for airfare, meals and accommodations.

And then it was necessary for him to make three trips to Toronto in August and September to meet with “consultants,” “designers,” and “stakeholders.”

Since the museum is being built here, why couldn’t those folks come to Winnipeg for those meetings?

We didn’t even have that many mosquitoes this summer.