18 June 2012

Conflict of Interest and the Nalcor board appointments #nlpoli

2050 hrs – Mulligan Update – scroll to the end

Leo Abbass is the mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

He is a staunch of supporter of the Conservative Party.  He is such a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party – federal or provincial – that he can sometimes take on the appearance of the Pushme-Pullyou from Doctor Dolittle.

Abbass’ reward for his faithful service to the Conservative Party before all else is an appointment to the board of the provincial government’s energy corporation.

Abbass has no relevant experience, as it seems, but he does have a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest.  CBC’s Labrador Morning [audio link] interviewed Abbass last week and asked him about it.  Not surprisingly, Leo doesn’t see any problem.

Listen to the talk-back call afterwards though and you might scratch your chin a bit. Clarice Blake-Rudkowski notes that the conflict for Abbass is not just what he does in Nalcor board meetings.  It is what he does or might do in his job as mayor as well, in order to advance Nalcor’s interests.

Your humble e-scribbler takes no position on the conflict of interest issue for Leo or, indeed, for any of the other blatant patronage appointees going to the board with Leo.  SRBP just offers this audio link because it raises another aspect of the appointments that we should all consider.


Mulligan Update:  An e-mail correspondent quickly noted that Clarice has a very simple point about conflict of interest under the Municipalities Act, 1999, section 207.

207. (1) A councillor shall not vote on or speak to a matter before the council or a committee of the council where

(a) the councillor has a monetary interest in the matter distinct from an interest arising from his or her functions as a councillor;

(b) the councillor has a monetary interest directly or indirectly in the matter;

(c) a relative of the councillor has a monetary interest in the matter; or

(d) the councillor is an officer, employee or agent of an incorporated or unincorporated company, or other association of persons, that has a monetary interest in the matter. [emphasis added]

As an officer of Nalcor, Leo is going to have a problem if and when any issue involving Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro comes before Council.

Ditto Allan Hawkins, the mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor who is also now a director of both Nalcor and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Both will have to declare their conflict when and if issues related to Nalcor and/or Hydro come before Council.  That’s spelled out in section 208. There’s also an annual conflict of interest disclosure.

And if they don’t declare the conflict?  Under section 206, council has to boot the offender off council.

Leo Abbass might want to ask Labrador Morning for a do-over.