New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant says the premier needs to answer questions about the timing of the fraud charges laid against Liberal candidate Andrew Harvey.
Gallant’s comments come a day after the assistant deputy attorney general Luc Labonté announced his office will be scrutinizing the process that led to the fraud charges against Harvey. The charges against Harvey, two members of his family and three of their companies were dropped on Friday.
The charges were related to a 2011 investigation, but were laid three weeks before the election campaign started, causing the Liberal party to question the timing.
“Obviously one of the main things we need to have answered, I believe as a province, is the timing of everything that has transpired,” he said. “Obviously you would assume the file regarding Andy Harvey would have been looked at for several weeks, months if not more than that. Somehow charges were laid days before the election. Somehow the charges were leaked to the media.”
The Liberals also want to know if the review will be conducted by an independent third-party.
PCs say there was no political involvement
Attorney General Ted Flemming says he is “absolutely certain” the decisions around the charges were made independently from government, calling the Liberals' demands a "sideshow."
“There is no overlapping whatsoever...our justice system doesn't function behind closed doors,” said the Progressive Conservative MP. “I found out, and I’m the attorney general, about the charges through the public domain when they became public knowledge.”
“As attorney general I had no involvement whatsoever in the laying in charges, no involvement whatsoever in the withdrawal of charges and nor should I or any other person in government.”
Flemming says he's never discussed the issue with Labonté.
"If he wants to, as director of prosecutions, independently review certain things that is his business, that's his prerogative... It's not for government to do," said Flemming.
Gallant says Premier David Alward's remarks that there are still questions hanging over Harvey are “inappropriate" and "unbecoming of a premier."
Alward made those comments Friday after the charges were dropped.