Larry's Gulch controversy sparks 2 investigations
Information commissioner and 'independent body' hired by Attorney General's office will probe controversy
Two investigations will soon be underway into controversial trips to Larry’s Gulch, the government-owned fishing lodge, on the Restigouche River in northwestern New Brunswick.
The controversy started when a newspaper editor accepted a free trip to Larry’s Gulch in 2013 with Daniel Allain, the chief executive officer of NB Liquor, and then it was learned that attempts were made to alter government documents.
The political intrigue deepened as questions grew over the proper use of the government’s fishing lodge.
Attorney General Serge Rousselle has already called it "serious" that Progressive Conservative partisans appeared to be using Larry's Gulch for meetings.
Now he says the government will hire an "independent body" to look into that part of the controversy.
Rousselle says he won't be commenting on the case anymore on the Larry's Gulch controversy because his office could be involved in the future.
He also wouldn’t say if that's a hint that charges are possible after the investigation is completed.
"When you ask for an independent inquiry, you don't know in advance what will be found out in the inquiry,” Rousselle said.
Rousselle also would not say whether the inquiry will cover only the last four years of Progressive Conservative government or if it would also look at how Liberals used the lodge between 2006 and 2010.
This investigation is separate from the probe started by Anne Bertrand, the province’s access to information commissioner.
Bertrand is looking at whether documents were deliberately altered before being released, which is a possible violation of the law.
It's not clear when either investigation will be finished.
Edith Doucet, the clerk of the executive council, completed an internal review of how the Larry's Gulch documents were handled.
The report, which was released on Tuesday, showed an official within the tourism department suggested to the premier's office and NB Liquor that someone from the Crown agency write to tourism and state they didn't want the guest list released for competitive reasons.
Doucet said she had "serious concern" about how Larry's Gulch guest list documents were handled in response to Right to Information requests and recommended the provincial cabinet ask Bertrand's office to carry out a thorough review.