Williams aide withdraws C-NLOPB nomination
Elizabeth Matthews, a communications director to former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams, withdrew herself from the running Monday for a controversial appointment to an offshore oil regulator.
Matthews was the provincial government's nominee as vice-chair of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates the offshore oil industry.
Opposition politicians had labelled the nomination as outrageous patronage.
In a statement, Matthews said she withdrew her name for consideration because her nomination had become so politicized.
"To imply that my potential appointment could somehow compromise offshore safety is very disturbing and irresponsible," she said.
"The depth to which the Opposition has taken this debate is a political agenda taken too far. For this reason I am withdrawing my name from the nomination process."
Matthews has declined interviews.
Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones and other critics had assailed the nomination, claiming that the C-NLOPB should have a vice-chair with industrial and not political experience, particularly given the recommendations from the Wells commission into offshore helicopter safety.
In her statement, Matthews noted she had worked extensively on offshore oil issues during her time in the premier's office, including in the aftermath of the fatal Cougar 491 crash in March 2009.
"To be clear, I am not withdrawing because I feel in anyway incapable of performing this job, as I am incredibly proud of my professional accomplishments and gladly defend my abilities to the Opposition. But the politicalization of this issue has gone too far," Matthews said.
"The Opposition will attempt to claim victory; but on the contrary, they have shamefully created this debate for political purposes."
Meanwhile, Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner blamed the Opposition for creating a hostile environment around the nomination.
"While I respect [her] decision, I am disappointed that such an accomplished and capable individual was pushed to such a decision by petty political maneuvering by the Opposition that went too far," Skinner said in a statement.
"As a government, we stand behind our decision to nominate Ms. Matthews and I have no doubt she would have made tremendous contributions to the board."