Tories introduce anti-patronage bills drafted by NDP

The Alward government has introduced two bills drafted by the NDP to curb some patronage appointments, while the Opposition Liberals have proposed rival bills with even stronger restrictions.

Liberals table rival bills with even stronger restrictions

The Alward government has introduced two bills drafted by the NDP to curb some patronage appointments.

One piece of legislation would give the board of NB Liquor the power to hire the Crown corporation's chief executive officer.

The premier currently holds that perogative - and the past three CEOs have been political supporters of the government in power.

But Finance Minister Blaine Higgs still had difficulty Wednesday acknowledging they were patronage appointees.

"I don't know that I need to answer that in one direction or another, because we have a political process that parties have been following for many years," he said.

"What we're doing, for the first time in a long time, is we're tightening up on that flexibility. We're putting systems in place that actually hold us to account."

Under the second bill, departing MLAs would have to wait one year before accepting government appointments.

The legislation is designed to avoid cases such as that of former Energy minister Margaret-Ann Blaney, who quit the legislature to become president of the Crown corporation Efficiency New Brunswick.

The position, which comes with an estimated salary and benefits of $200,000, was never posted.

Liberals propose stronger restrictions

The Opposition Liberals have introduced rival bills with even stronger restrictions.

The Competitive Appointments Act would require that the CEOs of all Crown corporations be hired through an open and competitive process, said Opposition House Leader Bill Fraser, who tabled the bills.

The Act to Amend the Members' Conflict of Interest Act would extend the period of time former members of cabinet would have to wait to be appointed to provincial government agencies or Crown corporations to four years, he said.

And the Pension Qualification Act would prohibit the awarding of special pensions to certain deputy ministers and party insiders following a defeat of government.

"We believe these are important measures that will help restore the public's trust in the political process," Fraser said in a statement.