Fisheries Minister Mike Olscamp says enforcement officers in his department operate independently of political considerations despite recent accusations that Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud interfered with a fisheries prosecution.
The Opposition Liberals revealed last week they had received an anonymous letter alleging that Robichaud tried to block the laying of charges against his brother under the Aquaculture Act.
The RCMP are investigating the complaint but the allegations have not been proven.
Despite the complaint, Olscamp said fisheries enforcement officers, like the one who laid the charge against Robichaud’s brother, aren't subject to political control.
"They do their job, they report to a supervisor who works here in Fredericton, and I would suspect that is designed in that way to assure they are independent and free to do their job," he said.
Olscamp said he's not aware of any attempts by Robichaud or his staff to influence the prosecution of Robichaud's brother.
The controversy comes as Olscamp's department changes the way it employs its enforcement officers.
As a part of the government's internal renewal process, six part-time seasonal positions will be turned into two full-time seasonal jobs and two part-time seasonal jobs.
Those changes mean two fewer enforcement officers at the very time the work of those officers is in the political spotlight.
The Liberals have called for Robichaud to step down from his role as deputy premier and economic development minister during the police investigation.
Robichaud has refused to resign.
The cabinet minister also received an endorsement from Premier David Alward during question period last week.
Alward said he was standing behind Robichaud.
"I have full confidence in the minister of economic development, full confidence in the work he has done in the past, full confidence in the work he's doing today, and he will continue to do on behalf of the people of New Brunswick," Alward said last week.