09 December 2011

Connies pork-up offshore board #nlpoli #cdnpoli

The federal Conservatives took a leaf from the provincial Conservatives’ book on Thursday and added a political pork appointee to the board that regulates the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Long-time Tory Reg Bowers was intergovernmental affairs minister Peter Penashue’s campaign manager in the last federal election. He’ll serve for a six-year term, subject to re-appointment.

The official announcement of his appointment is pretty vague on the details of Bowers’ background that make him an appropriate appointment.  All the release says is that Bowers has “30 years of experience in developing regional business prospects in Newfoundland and Labrador. He has worked on numerous projects creating opportunities for communities in his home province.”

Before he left politics abruptly in late 2010, Danny Williams set the wheels in motion to appoint his communications director to a provincial seat on the joint federal-provincial board.  Williams’ successor Kathy Dunderdale carried on with the appointment. Dunderdale and her natural resources minister word of Matthews’ new job secret until word of it leaked early in 2011

The botched appointment died in a ball of flames amid public condemnation of the blatant patronage it represented. 

The furor included a now famous attack on Dunderdale by Williams:

In my opinion, Elizabeth Matthews – of all the women I have met in politics including my ministers – was the most competent woman I had come across.

Bowers joins another federal appointee with no relevant background in the offshore oil and gas business:  Conrad Sullivan, brother of former Conservative fisheries ambassador Loyola Sullivan,

The two provincial appointees on the board - retired labour union boss Reg Anstey and Ed Drover – also lacked any relevant experience in dealing with offshore oil and gas issues prior to their appointment to the board.

- srbp -