Tory ministers offer conflicting views on Blaney's job

Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud's latest explanation on why Margaret-Ann Blaney was given the top job at Efficiency New Brunswick runs contrary to previous public statements by a senior Progressive Conservative cabinet minister.

Bruce Fitch bragged about cost savings prior to Blaney's appointment

Premier David Alward and his cabinet ministers have had difficulty explaining the appointment of former energy minister Margaret-Ann Blaney to the top job at Efficiency New Brunswick. (CBC)

Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud’s latest explanation for why Premier David Alward appointed Margaret-Ann Blaney as president of Efficiency New Brunswick runs contrary to previous public statements by a senior Progressive Conservative cabinet minister.

Alward and his cabinet ministers have had a tough time explaining the appointment of Blaney to the high-paying job at the Crown corporation.

Last week, Robichaud told reporters that Alward had a responsibility to fill the position of president of Efficiency NB, which was previously held by former NDP Leader Elizabeth Weir.

Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud said last week that Blaney replaced a civil servant who was in the job temporarily. (CBC)

"We had the responsibility as a government to fulfill, or to replace Madame Weir to that position," Robichaud said.

But on April 20, a month before the controversial appointment, Environment Minister Bruce Fitch claimed the provincial government had no such responsibility to fill the job.

In fact, Fitch bragged about how the provincial government was reducing costs at the Crown corporation by getting rid of Weir's old job.

"Former MLA Elizabeth Weir was the president or deputy minister of Efficiency New Brunswick. That position has been eliminated," Fitch said.

Fitch also told the legislature how Denis Caron, the deputy minister of environment and local government, would be adding the task of Efficiency NB to his duties.

Environment Minister Bruce Fitch told the legislature in April the government was saving $200,000 by giving the job of president of Efficiency NB to a civil servant. (CBC)

"Now one person, Mr. Caron, is filling three different functions," Fitch said.

Fitch said eliminating Weir's job would save taxpayers a significant amount of money, which has been an ongoing theme for the Alward government, which is trying to reduce its deficit.

"That position has been eliminated. With the benefits and everything associated with that, it is about $200,000," Fitch said.

Byelection controversy

The Progressive Conservative government’s handling of the Blaney appointment comes as the party is trying to hold onto Blaney’s old seat in Rothesay.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has refused to publicly endorse Blaney’s appointment.

And he isn't the only Tory, who is steering clear of backing the controversial appointment.

Hugh John (Ted) Flemming III, the PC candidate in Rothesay, has also balked at endorsing Blaney’s new job.

Meanwhile, the Liberals and the NDP have seized on the issue to try and win votes in the June 25 byelection.

The NDP is hoping to have Dominic Cardy, the party's leader, elected in the riding. Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has already shown up in the riding to campaign alongside Cardy.

The NDP have not held a seat in the legislature since 2005.

The Liberals are running John Wilcox in the southern New Brunswick riding.

Sharon Murphy will be running in the riding again for the Green Party and Marjorie MacMurray will be on the ballot as an Independent candidate.

More than 400 people voted on Saturday in the first day of advance polls in the byelection.

People can also vote on Monday in advance polls in the riding.