New Brunswick

Opposition calls for accountability for those involved in Atcon loan fiasco

Auditor General released second audit on construction company this week

Sarah Petz - CBC News

October 06, 2017

Political Panel: Oct. 5  43:47

Members of New Brunswick's opposition parties argue there has been little accountability for MLAs involved in the Atcon fiasco and that better controls are needed to prevent a similar debacle from happening again.

New Brunswick's auditor general Kim MacPherson said in a new audit this week on the Miramichi-based construction company that it was poorly managed and used questionable accounting when the Liberal government of Shawn Graham gave it $63.4 million in loan guarantees.

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During Information Morning Fredericton's weekly political panel, Trade Minister Roger Melanson dodged questions on what consequences members of the Liberal government who were involved with the fiasco have faced.

"I can't specifically answer what are the consequences," he said.

Progressive Conservative Riverview MLA Bruce Fitch said he was "appalled" by the minister's response, and said he was concerned that the government has not done enough to make sure something like Atcon doesn't happen again. 

"We're still not protected here." - Progressive Conservative Riverview MLA Bruce Fitch

This week, MacPherson said only four of the 19 recommendations from her first audit in 2015 have been implemented, despite claims by Opportunities New Brunswick that 15 were implemented.

"The past is terrible, but the future, we're still not protected here," Fitch said.

Lack of consequences

Auditor General Kim MacPherson's report found an Atcon account paid $700,000 of 'personal expenses of a shareholder,' including a luxury car lease, jewelry, and payments on a vacation property in Aruba. (Maria Burgos/CBC)

Green Party Leader David Coon argued there has been no accountability for the six MLAs who were part of the Atcon decisions.

Current cabinet ministers Rick Doucet, Denis Landry and Brian Kenney, and former ministers Victor Boudreau, Ed Doherty and Donald Arseneault were part of the Shawn Graham government at the time the decisions were made.

"That's what really, really makes people cross, is the lack of accountability, the lack of consequences for poor decisions, bad decisions in our political system," he said.

People's Alliance Party Leader Kris Austin echoed Coon's arguments, but went one step further, calling on the MLAs to resign.

"At the end of the day, that should be a starting point," he said.

NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie said the fiasco and results of the second audit highlight that the provincial government needs to find a better way to boost the economy than giving money to private companies.

"This way hasn't worked for New Brunswickers, is not working for New Brunswickers, and will not work for New Brunswickers," she said.

"It's a scathing report and calls for a different approach."  


 

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