New Brunswick

NDP seeks to end patronage appointments in New Brunswick

New Brunswick NDP leader Dominic Cardy believes his two proposed bills would go a long way toward ending political patronage appointments in the province.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy needs help from Tories or Liberals to push proposed bills through

New Brunswick NDP leader Dominic Cardy believes his two bills would go a long way toward ending patronage appointments in the province.

He said the two proposed pieces of legislation are very specific and would focus on merit-based competitions for civil service jobs, rather than giving premiers the power to appoint their supporters.

Cardy said the controversy that emerged in May 2012, when cabinet minister Margaret-Ann Blaney resigned her seat and was appointed chief executive officer of Efficiency NB, is an example of one of the fundamental problems in New Brunswick politics.

'We've seen the last few governments, whoever happened to be the campaign manager for the premier of the time, amazingly turns out to be the most qualified person to become the president of NB Liquor.'—Dominic Cardy, NB NDP leader

"[It was] an appointment by the premier with no competitive hiring process, no process at all," Cardy said.

"And that's a power that premiers can be pretty tempted to abuse. We've seen this a few times in recent history."

Under the first bill Cardy is proposing, MLAs would have to wait for one year before they could be appointed to a government position.

"If someone is really committed to public service, and I think a lot of former MLAs are, and have a lot to offer, then that's not an unreasonable thing to do. This is not an exceptional requirement — most provinces have waiting periods of some form."

Cardy says the cooling-off period, combined with merit-based hiring would give New Brunswick the civil service it deserves.

NB Liquor also targeted

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy says MLAs would have to wait one year before they could be appointed to a government position under his proposed legislation. (CBC)

Cardy's second bill focuses on Crown corporation NB Liquor.

He said since patronage in the province is so widespread, specific pieces of legislation will have to be introduced.

Cardy wants to remove the power of the premier to appoint the president of NB Liquor.

"We've seen the last few governments, whoever happened to be the campaign manager for the premier of the time, amazingly turns out to be the most qualified person to become the president of NB Liquor."

Premier David Alward appointed his election campaign co-chair Daniel Allain president and CEO of NB Liquor in October 2010.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs recently suggested patronage is not the way to chose the leader of the Crown corporation.

Cardy needs help to introduce change

Premier David Alward appointed Daniel Allain, right, president and CEO of NB Liquor in October 2010. (CBC)

Card said the legislation has been drafted by lawyers and is ready to be presented in the legislature.

But he has not been elected as an MLA and therefore cannot introduce his proposed legislation.

He is asking the premier or Liberal Leader Brian Gallant to choose an MLA to bring it forward, but says so far neither of them has taken him up on that request.

"For the Liberals and Tories to change this culture it means destroying the whole basis in which their parties are based because the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties get to become leaders by saying, 'When I get in, I'm going to give you this position.'"

"It's a tempting power and I can understand why premiers use it and that's why it's important to get that temptation off the table as quickly as possible," he said.

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