Premier mum on O'Brien threat allegations

Kathy Dunderdale is not commenting on allegations that Kevin O'Brien threatened a Gander business group with a claim he would hold up spending for a new school.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael says Gander MHA broke code of conduct

Lorraine Michael says Gander MHA was unethical, reports Glenn Deir 1:37

Premier Kathy Dunderdale is not commenting on allegations that Newfoundland and Labrador's municipal affairs minister threatened a Gander business group with a claim he would hold up spending for a new school.

The premier's office said Dunderdale had no comment on allegations made by Barry Warren, a former president of the Gander & Area Chamber of Commerce, who told CBC News that Gander MHA Kevin O'Brien on several occasions made threats of retaliation if the chamber displeased him.

O'Brien, who last week denied allegations that he pressured the chamber to rescind invitations to two NDP members to serve breakfast at the annual Festival of Flight, has not yet commented publicly on Warren's allegations. (The two men also have a political history, as O'Brien defeated Warren in the 2011 election.)

Barry Warren is a former president of the Gander & Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as a former Liberal candidate. (CBC )

Warren said O'Brien made threats to the chamber around construction of a new school, and sparred with the chamber over issues such as spending cuts at the RCMP and the relocation of health board offices to Grand Falls-Windsor.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she was appalled about the latest allegations involving O'Brien.

"This description of how he has treated the chamber of commerce certainly makes him sound like a bully," said Michael, who believes O'Brien violated the code of conduct for members of the house of assembly.

'Very, very disturbing'

Michael said she would be filing an official complaint with the commissioner who oversees MHAs.

"It's very, very disturbing. It's not ethical behaviour," Michael said, pointing to the administration guide given to members.

If O'Brien is shown to have broken a code of conduct, there is no specific punishment. 

"This kind of behaviour with the chamber of commerce shows a lack of respect for the public," she said.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael plans to file a code-of-conduct complaint against Gander MHA Kevin O'Brien. (CBC )

Michael's complaint may prompt the Tories to respond. In the past, in similar circumstances, Dunderdale has criticized behaviour that she saw as inappropriate.

For instance, after federal Conservative Peter Penashue boasted before a room of supporters that he had stalled funding for a project in Newfoundland to help a project in his own riding of Labrador, Dunderdale said she was not impressed.

When CBC News asked what she would do if one of her cabinet ministers did what Penashue claimed to have done, Dunderdale said, "They wouldn't be at the cabinet table. You cannot have that view and be at the cabinet table. You cannot."


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