A potential conflict of interest for the province's incoming energy and mines minister may have cleared up as Craig Leonard's sister has quit her job with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an industry lobby group.
Angie Leonard submitted her resignation on Friday due to a perceived conflict of interest, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
In a cabinet shuffle that takes effect Tuesday, Craig Leonard regains responsibility for the shale gas file as the new minister of the Department of Energy and Mines.
"Basically it was her view that the perception of the conflict of interest that has arisen recently has made it impossible for her to continue in her role with community engagement and stakeholder engagement in New Brunswick," said Paul Barnes, the association's Atlantic manager.
The association is one of the oil-and-gas industry's largest lobby groups.
When Angie Leonard took the job as a senior natural gas advisor for the association earlier this year, her brother, who was the energy minister at the time, was forced to recuse himself from any involvement with the shale gas issue.
Craig Leonard was subsequently moved to the Department of Government Services.
When Premier David Alward announced the cabinet shuffle last month, he had hinted Angie Leonard might be leaving the job.
The association, however, said she was staying put in her position with the lobby group.
Still, the Alward government insisted there was no risk of a conflict of interest because Leonard and other government officials were banned from meeting with her.
Craig Leonard says he has not spoken with anyone from the association about the shale gas file.
Angie Leonard was previously one of the provincial government's senior advisors on its shale gas policy. She was part of a working group made up of civil servants that was developing a regulatory framework to deal with the shale gas industry.
When she was hired by the oil-and-gas lobby group, officials said she was selected based on her skills and not her connections.
Her job was never to lobby government, but rather to work with communities on the shale gas issue, they said.