Bourque must quit byelection over conflict, Liberals say
Kent voters will elect a new MLA in the April 15 byelection
The Liberals are demanding Progressive Conservative Jimmy Bourque pulled out of the Kent byelection after admitting he broke conflict-of-interest rules when he was a political assistant for the Alward government.
The Liberals criticized Bourque in the legislature again on Thursday for not following conflict-of-interest rules when he was a ministerial assistant to Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud.
Bourque told CBC this week he made a mistake in not declaring that he owned a company doing business with the provincial government.
Bourque's company made close to $500,000 from provincial contracts in the last two years.
"The issue here is that Jimmy Bourque admitted that for the last two and a half years he's been breaking the law," said Liberal MLA Victor Boudreau.
Boudreau said Premier David Alward should remove Bourque as the PC candidate for the April 15 byelection in the eastern riding of Kent.
The deadline for candidates to withdraw from the Kent byelection is 10 a.m. on April 13.
New Brunswick’s conflict-of-interest law says executive assistants are in a conflict of interest if they own a company doing business with the government. However, the law allows them to sign a declaration to avoid being found in a conflict.
Bourque told CBC News on Wednesday he thought an earlier declaration he signed for a different minister in the Bernard Lord government still applied.
Bourque has owned the company since 1996 and he said it has done work for the provincial government under both Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments.
His company has been renting a backhoe to the Department of Transportation. He said the rental brings in $500 to $1,000 a month to his company.
'I'm not an expert,' Robichaud says
But Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud, who hired Bourque as his executive assistant, won't acknowledge Bourque was in a conflict despite Bourque's own admission.
"I'm not an expert to admit it or not admit it," he said.
But the Tories seemed quite content to let the Liberals keep raising the conflict-of-interest issue, clearly calculating that it will remind byelection voters of the Atcon scandal, which Robichaud raised repeatedly.
"Don't forget the major point here. We have a byelection in the riding of Kent because the former MLA [Shawn Graham], the former leader, the former premier was found guilty in a breach of conflict of interest," Robichaud said.
Bourque is running against Liberal Leader Brian Gallant and NDP candidate Susan Levi-Peters.
The Green Party and the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick will not have candidates on the ballot on April 15.
The Tories have 42 seats in the legislature and the Liberals have 12 MLAs. The Kent byelection will fill the only vacant seat in the legislature.