MHA, labour head accusing gov't of political patronage

The provincial government is facing more accusations of political patronage following the announcement of two new board members for the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
NDP MHA Dale Kirby says the new C-NLOPB appointees do not have adequate experience to be on the board. Labour leader Lana Payne says the appointments are clearly patronage, reports Mark Quinn. 1:56

The provincial government is facing more accusations of political patronage following the announcement of two new board members for the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

Opposition members say the appointments to the offshore petroleum board are as blatant as it gets.

Scott Tessier was named the new chair of the C-NLOPB.

 However, it was the appointment of Ed Williams as vice-chair that left many people in the province concerned.

Williams is the brother of former premier Danny Williams, as well as an unofficial advisor to Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

NDP MHA Dale Kirby believes there is patronage on other boards, as well.

"This is not the only board, I mean, go look at the board of Nalcor if you're looking for a bunch of PC party supporters who have no experience," he said when he was a guest on Friday's On Point Radio.

"No experience in electricity other than probably changing a light bulb."

Labour leaders says 'clearly patronage appointments'

Lana Payne, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, said she isn't happy with the appointments.

"This certainly can't help their image problem in terms of having a bit of a too cozy relationship with the oil industry," Payne said.

She also pointed out that despite Dunderdale's celebration of influential women last week, there are no female members appointed to the C-NLOPB.

"When we're putting people on these kinds of boards - regulators in particular - you want to try to have a diversity of folks there, gender, of course, being one, as it always should be."

Payne said that ultimately, the new members will be judged by their actions.

The first test will be when the board responds to the oil industry's request to resume off-shore night flights.

Minister defends decision

Tom Marshall, minister of Natural Resources, is defending the decision to appoint Tessier and Williams to the N-LOPB.

He said the new appointees are perfectly qualified to do their new jobs and that the province is lucky to have them on the board.

Tessier most recently worked for Chevron, and was also a chief of staff to former Tory MP Loyola Hearn.

Williams will be taking the job that Danny Williams' former communications director Elizabeth Matthews was originally nominated for.