Premier has 'full confidence' in MLA expense claims system

Premier David Alward says he still has faith in the system that oversees how MLAs claim expenses for their riding offices, but NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling for the conflict of interest commissioner to looking to the situation involving Greg Davis.

David Alward says he still has faith in system that saw Greg Davis fall behind in office rent

Premier David Alward says he still has faith in the system that oversees how MLAs claim expenses for their riding offices.

Alward made the comments on Thursday, in response to the case of Progressive Conservative MLA Greg Davis.

Premier David Alward says he has "full confidence" in the system that oversees the expense claims of MLAs.
Davis, who represents Campbellton-Restigouche Centre, is under investigation by the legislative administration committee after he claimed the maximum $40,000 for his constituency office, but fell behind in his rent by $6,665, according to a bailiff's notice posted on his office door.

MLA expense claims are not made public, but Alward says he is sure the system is working.

"I have … full confidence, quite frankly, in the work of the office of the legislative assembly and the officials who work with the legislative assembly to ensure that, you know, the receipts, the documents are completely above board," he said.

"I have full confidence in that process taking place."

Asked whether all MLA expenses should be reviewed, given the concerns raised, Alward said: "That's a decision for people to take."

"Right now, there's a process of review that is going on, on Mr. Davis. In the next few days it will be reported to the LAC committee (legislative administration committee) and I look forward to seeing that information."

The report on how Davis spent public funds on his riding office, dating back to 2010, is expected on Tuesday, House Speaker Dale Graham has said.

NDP contends Tories broke the law

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is calling on the province's conflict of interest commissioner to look into the Davis matter.

The clerk of the legislature has said Davis's outstanding rent bill has been taken care of, and the Progressive Conservative Party also loaned Davis $5,000 to pay back rent in 2012, according to party executive director J.P. Soucy.

Cardy says that loan was never disclosed and contends that's a violation of the province's Conflict of Interest Act.

"We’re calling for the executive director of the Conservative Party to answer serious questions about why his party broke the law and why they have assisted in allowing Mr. Davis to break the law," Cardy told CBC News on Friday.

"We have Mr. Davis, who failed to report, as is required under the law, a conflict of interest, and we have a party that has misfiled, if you want to be polite about it, misidentified this loan on their documents that they’re required to submit to Elections New Brunswick.

"The party executive director has said he wants to handle this 'en famille,' in the family. That’s absolutely not good enough. This is public money and there has to be a public accounting for what happened to it."

Davis has announced he won't be re-offering in the September provincial election, citing health reasons. He has not been in the legislature since the session resumed in early February.

Expense claims for riding offices are reviewed by legislature staff, without being made public.

The Liberals have introduced a bill to require the claims be posted publicly and Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud says the government will probably support it with minor changes.

Liberal Opposition House leader Bill Fraser has also called for the legislative administration committee to start holding its meetings in public, like its counterpart in Nova Scotia.