Tory candidate refuses to endorse Blaney's appointment
Rothesay PC candidate Hugh John Flemming III says he 'wasn't there'
Another prominent Progressive Conservative is refusing to endorse the appointment of Margaret-Ann Blaney as the new president of Efficiency New Brunswick.
Hugh John (Ted) Flemming III, the Tory candidate in the upcoming Rothesay byelection to replace Blaney, won't say what he thinks of the controversial decision.
"I wasn't there," he told CBC News.
"I support the merit system. That's what I support. That's the only business I know. That's the only system I know."
Flemming, a lawyer, said he hasn’t heard much criticism about the appointment.
Only two people have complained to him so far during his door-to-door campaigning for the June 25 byelection, he said.
All parties are guilty on patronage, said Flemming.
But he said he believes the time has come to clean up the system.
"Every election, everybody talks about doing something about it. But it's high time that perhaps we all take a look at ourselves and start thinking in those terms," he said.
Finance minister balks at endorsing decision
Flemming’s comments come on the heels of Finance Minister Blaine Higgs repeated refusal to say whether he supports Premier David Alward’s decision to give Blaney to high-paying Crown corporation post.
Higgs, who has earned a reputation as a straight-talking cabinet minister, refused to support Blaney’s appointment during question period on Wednesday.
The premier "made it clear that that was his appointment. I am not in a position to make any comment on it as you are well aware. That is his decision," Higgs said.
Opposition Leader Victor Boudreau, who kept trying to pin Higgs down on the issue, said his obvious discomfort is something his party will raise in the campaign.
"That tells me that there's something wrong in the Alward government," said Boudreau.
"So there's no question that it's something that's going to be talked about, and we will see how the people of Rothesay react to that."
Blaney resigned last month as the province's energy minister and Progressive Conservative MLA for Rothesay to take over at the helm of Efficiency New Brunswick.
Denis Caron, the province's deputy minister of environment and local government, had served as the president of the conservation agency for two months, filling the position, at no cost, as part of his overall duties.
Blaney, however, will be paid a deputy minister's salary of between $150,000 and $175,000 a year.