New Brunswick

Liberals consider backing NDP anti-patronage bills

The Liberals say they may be willing to introduce two anti-patronage bills drafted by NDP Leader Dominic Cardy.

Liberal House Leader Bill Fraser says he's 'willing to look at them'

The Opposition Liberals say they may be willing to work with the New Democratic Party on two anti-patronage bills.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy has drafted two pieces of legislation that he says would restrict the doling out of political favours in the future.

But the NDP leader does not have seat in the legislature so he needs another party to introduce the bills.

Liberal House leader Bill Fraser says his party may be willing to introduce the bills on Cardy's behalf.

'If they're bills that are positive bills that our caucus agrees with, then certainly we'd be happy to introduce them.'—Liberal House Leader Bill Fraser

"I haven't seen the bills myself, but absolutely we'd be willing to look at them," Fraser said.

"And if they're bills that are positive bills that our caucus agrees with, then certainly we'd be happy to introduce them."

The first opportunity for the Liberals to introduce Cardy's bills would be the week of March 26, when the legislature opens.

One of the NDP bills would prevent MLAs from being appointed to provincial jobs for a year after leaving office.

The most recent example of this practice was Margaret-Ann Blaney, who left her job as the province's energy minister to become the president and chief executive officer of Efficiency New Brunswick.

That was the second time the top job at Efficiency New Brunswick was given to a retiring MLA. Former NDP leader Elizabeth Weir became the agency's first president when she left politics in 2005.

In 2003, then premier Bernard Lord convinced Bernard Richard to retire from the legislature, where he had served as a Liberal MLA and cabinet minister since 1991, and become the province's ombudsman.

The other NDP will would prevent the provincial government from appointing partisan friends as the chief executive officer of NB Liquor by giving the corporation's board the power to make the choice. The corporation's board is appointed by the provincial cabinet.

The de-politicizing of the top NB Liquor job is something Liberal Leader Brian Gallant talked about during the party leadership race.

Cardy says the bills are "ready to go."

"We've had them drafted by lawyers, they have gone through all the necessary tests to make sure they can be introduced the next time the legislature opens, if either Mr. Gallant or the premier are interested in doing so," Cardy said.