05 September 2012

Disappeared Deputy? #nlpoli

Last summer, the provincial government proudly announced the appointment of a new deputy minister of natural resources.

The release included Diana Dalton’s biography.  She’s a lawyer who graduated from Dalhousie in 1979:

… Throughout the course of her career, Ms. Dalton has worked with the Governments of Nova Scotia and Papua New Guinea, as well as with the Department of Economic and Social Development, United Nations, New York. As an independent consultant she has worked in over 30 developed and developing countries in the areas of natural resources, energy and environment, including clients such as the World Bank, United Nations, national governments and private companies. Ms. Dalton has served for the past six years as Chair of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, and for two of these years she was also acting CEO.

As impressive as those credentials are, is Dalton still in the same job a year later?

Seems like more churning in the upper ranks of the public service.

In the midst of a flurry of money announcements, the Premier’s Office issue a tersely worded news release about changes in the senior executive at the natural resources department.

Charles Bown, a career public servant described by some as Nalcor’s conduit to the department and to the government generally, is the new deputy minister but he’s a deputy with a difference. As the release put it, Bown will be “Deputy Minister, Natural Resources, with responsibility for Mines and Energy”.

Bown has held senior executive positions in the natural resources department since 2006.

Filling Bown’s old job is Tracy English.  Her most recent appointment was as acting deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs.

There’s no mention of Dalton in the news release at all.  If she’d left the job, there’d normally be a comment thanking her for her service. 

If Dalton is still a deputy minister, the new arrangement begs an explanation that the Premier’s Office didn’t include for what would be a very odd arrangement. After all, there’s nothing else in the natural resources department for a deputy minister other than the mines and energy branches.  The forestry and agrifoods section is run as a crown corporation.