Many Hanwell residents turned out to another public meeting on Thursday night to express their frustration with NB Liquor’s decision to award an agency store contract to a Moncton-based business.
About 70 people showed up at a public meeting on Thursday night to voice their dissatisfaction with how they feel the provincial government wasn’t taking them seriously over their concerns about the NB Liquor contract.
For weeks Chris Scholten has been asking why Moncton-based Power Plus Technology was awarded an agency liquor store over his locally run business.
NB Liquor has not released how each bid was judged.
'Obviously they're not listening to our request. They're stalling, they're refusing to answer questions. And these are not hard questions.' — Chris Scholten, Hanwell businessowner
Many in Hanwell, a small community outside of Fredericton, feel the agency licence should have been awarded to one of the two local companies competing for it.
Scholten demanded on Thursday that no contract be signed without an independent review and gave NB Liquor two weeks to make public the details of the winning bid.
"Obviously they're not listening to our request. They're stalling, they're refusing to answer questions. And these are not hard questions," he said.
Scholton has also taken his complaint to the province’s ombudsman.
Progressive Conservative MLAs Carl Urquhart and Brian Macdonald sent a letter to NB Liquor on Thursday requesting a release of the documents for the sake of transparency.
But Macdonald and Urquhart were not at Thursday’s meeting in Hanwell.
The absence of the two Progressive Conservative MLAs was noted by many people, such as George Dignam, at the Hanwell meeting.
"I know budget's coming up and it’s a hard, hard process they're going through. But as the lady said at the podium earlier, could they not have spent two hours between the two of them, between Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Urquhart to come here? I mean neither one was here," Dignam said.
NB Liquor also did not send a representative to the Hanwell meeting to discuss their position on the agency store contract.
A NB Liquor official said on Thursday the letter from the MLAs had been received by Daniel Allain, the president and chief executive officer of NB Liquor, but so far he's not commenting.
Last month, Allain said the Crown corporation formed an internal agency store task force to review the expansion of the agency store network.
Allain said the decision to create the task force was intended to guarantee an "open and transparent process" when these contracts were awarded.