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Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 25, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

 

Finance Minister Misled House of Assembly About Communications Consultant

 

 

 

Paul Davis, PC Leader of the Official Opposition, said Finance Minister Cathy Bennett misled the House of Assembly about a contract for an external communications consultant that cost taxpayers $60,000 in three months.

 

 

 

“The Finance Minister told the House of Assembly that the communications consultant was hired, not by the government, but by the law firm that was doing contract work for the government, and that the consultant’s work was related to public sector collective bargaining,” said Davis.

 

 

 

In response to questions from the PC Opposition Leader in the House of Assembly on May 10, Minister Bennett replied: “… the services of McInnes Cooper have been retained by the Department of Justice to support collective bargaining.”

 

 

 

Additionally, in the House of Assembly on May 19, Minister Bennett stated “…. We have hired, through the Department of Justice, the firm of McInnes Cooper, who have brought with them the services that they feel are appropriate to support the incredibly talented individuals that will be representing government as part of collective bargaining. For the Member opposite to suggest that government made a direct hire is factually inaccurate…..”

 

 

 

The Telegram has reported on information obtained through an ATIPP request that shows the communications consultant was ‘actually doing routine communications consulting for the Finance Minister, including tweeting and speech editing on matters unrelated to collective bargaining.

 

 

 

The Finance Minister took a direct role in announcing the termination of the consultant’s contract, issuing a statement to the media in late July saying: “As of the end of June, government determined that the remaining communications work for collective bargaining would be completed internally. Government advised McInnes Cooper that external communications resources would no longer be required.”

 

 

 

Davis said, “The Minister implied an arms-length relationship in which a communications consultant was hired by the law firm to assist them in their work for the government on collective bargaining, but the documents obtained through ATIPP show that the communications consultant was working directly for the Minister on matters that had nothing to do with collective bargaining. Not only was the Minister wasting public money, but she misled the people of the province. People should be outraged.”

 

 

 

-30-

 

 

 

Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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