Brian Gallant disowns road work patronage cited in leaked email

Premier Brian Gallant is rejecting any suggestion that his government will play political favourites in awarding road work contracts, following an email sent by a Liberal riding president.

Myer Rabin says it is 'usual practice' for paving contracts be given to government 'supporters'

Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch leaked an email from Myer Rabin, which suggests the Liberals are looking for friendly companies to apply for road contracts. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

Premier Brian Gallant is rejecting any suggestion that his government will play political favourites in awarding road work contracts, after an email sent by a Liberal riding president was leaked on Wednesday.

Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch released the contentious email, written by Myer Rabin of Forté Law in Moncton, which had the subject line “Government Contracts."

Gallant dismissed Rabin's email as inaccurate during an afternoon conference call with reporters.

"At no time will factors be which political party membership card somebody has in their wallet," Gallant said.

"I'll make that very clear to all people within the ranks of government, and hopefully we won't have another incident like this again."

He said it was the work of a party volunteer with no role in his government.

If the idea came from someone working for a cabinet minister, Gallant says it was inappropriate.

"Certainly I'm going to, from my end, make it clear to people who are working with us that this type of message, this type of behaviour is not what we're about,” Gallant said.

The email, which was sent on Nov. 10, describes how it is “usual practice” after an election that road work contracts are “made available to supporters of the government in power.”

“Ian Pelkey of [Liberal cabinet minister] Cathy Roger’s office has enquired if we are aware of any Liberal companies or individuals in Riverview that may wish to bid on such contracts,” Rabin’s email states.

Rabin is listed on the Liberal party's website as the president of the Riverview riding association.

Fitch, who is also the Progressive Conservative MLA for Riverview, blacked out who the email was sent to.

But he said the email suggests Gallant is not living up to his commitment to do politics differently.

All that email is saying is Liberals are going to have an opportunity to bid on these contracts.- Myer Rabin, Forté Law

Fitch said he doesn't know if Gallant has ordered all of his ministers to send out similar emails or if this is only being done by Rogers.

"We are concerned that the Liberals are going to go out and borrow a substantial amount of money, spend it on their friends and supporters," he said.

The former Tory cabinet minister also took issue with the insinuation that it was a "usual practice" for road contracts to go to supporters of the government.

"I wouldn’t call that usual practice at all, it might be the usual practice for Liberals," Fitch said.

"But I know under my watch as a minister I never directed my staff to send something like that out."

Email sent to Liberal executive members

Rabin told CBC News on Wednesday that the email was sent to eight or nine members of the Liberal executive in Riverview.

“All that e-mail is saying is Liberals are going to have an opportunity to bid on these contracts," Rabin said.

He said it's possible these companies, "wouldn’t know about them otherwise.”

Rabin said he doesn’t know how contractors are normally notified of contracts by the Department of Transportation or whether there’s an online system of tenders that they can access.

The Liberal riding president said it does not mean that these companies will be favoured by the government when it comes to doling out paving deals.

“Not favoured, necessarily — just give us a list of people in your area who would want to be aware of them," he said.

He said his larger concern is an email that went to Liberal riding executive members ended up with the Progressive Conservatives. 


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