The auditor general is being called in to investigate a government paving contract that's landed Frank Coleman in controversy before he even moves into the premier's office.
Current Premier Tom Marshall was in the House of Assembly on Thursday for the first time this week, following a conference in the United States. He told the legislature that he's referring the Humber Valley Paving matter to Terry Paddon.
"In view of what has been happening here, and in view of of things that have been said in the media, and things that have been said in the this house, and conclusions reached by the members opposite, which I believe are incorrect, I have today written to the auditor general and have asked him to do an examination of any and all aspects of the contract between the department of transportation and works and Humber Valley Paving," he said in the House of Assembly.
Marshall said he's heard the facts, he has spoken with Transportation Minister Nick McGrath, and concluded that there's nothing wrong with allowing the Humber Valley Paving to step away from the deal.
"I'm satisfied that the department was doing what it felt was in the interest of the people of the province to try and get that work done, done on time, and on budget," he said.
"It's out there, it's a concern, the people trust the auditor general, let's get the auditor general to look at it and bring the facts out. Everything will be open, and the people can decide."
Opposition pleased with call for review
The NDP led the charge on wanting the auditor general to take a look at the contract.
"I'm very glad it's going to happen. I think it is the right thing to do," said NDP leader Lorraine Michael.
The Liberals said they're also happy with the move, but they do have concerns.
Liberal leader Dwight Ball said he wants the review done quickly, and encouraged the auditor general to take further steps to get the necessary information.
"Under oath, subpoena you know the major players, the decision-makers in this process, so that would give him, in this case and his office, to get as much information that may not have been included in any paper trail that we know that doesn't exist ... so that he can get as much information out of this important issue," he said.
Humber Valley Paving was formerly owned by Coleman. He left the company just days before it asked to be let out of a contract to pave the Trans Labrador Highway because it was losing money.
Government agreed, and didn't penalize the company for not completing the work.
McGrath has said that he dealt directly with Coleman's son Gene in granting the cancellation of the contract, but that much of the negotiating with Humber Valley Paving was done verbally — not through letters or emails — which makes it harder for the auditor general to investigate.