Taxpayers federation calls for tougher rules for politicians with 2nd jobs
Case of Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault working for national union shows need for change, says Kevin Lacey
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it's time for New Brunswick to get stricter with politicians who hold outside jobs, following the controversy involving Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault.
Kevin Lacey, Atlantic director of the government watchdog group, says the fact Arseneault didn't break any rules by taking a job with Canada's Building Trades Unions while continuing to serve as an MLA is troubling.
"If payment by a union to a sitting politician isn't reason enough to ensure that information not only is disclosed, let alone be allowed, then we have a problem," he said.
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Arseneault announced last Friday he will resign as MLA on Nov. 30, even though his lawyer and the province's integrity commissioner asserted the veteran politician was legally entitled to hold a second position.
Lacey contends having a second job in and of itself "isn't necessarily a bad thing."
"I think where the rubber hits the road is when it … raises questions about who an MLA is representing."
Arseneault's new job as government relations manager for the national construction union group involves lobbying — trying to influence governments, including elected politicians.
"Taxpayers should not be forced to try and decide whether or not [an] MLA is acting in the interests of themselves, as an MLA, or the interests of someone who is paying them money, or … the interests of the public who's paying them," said Lacey.
He contends it's time for new rules.
"What's the point of this whole integrity process that's supposed to be put in place to protect the taxpayer and the conflicts of interest within government if taking money from a labour union while you're sitting as an MLA does not qualify as something that needs to be disclosed?"
"I think it raises real questions about the whole system in its entirety, I think it raises questions about the power of the integrity commissioner and I think these questions need to be resolved" to ensure this doesn't happen again, he said.
A CBC News investigation found 13 other New Brunswick MLAs have other positions, investments, or financial interests.
With files from Information Morning Fredericton