Nfld. & Labrador

Christopher Mitchelmore should be reprimanded over Foote's hiring: Bruce Chaulk

The commissioner of legislative standards is recommending that cabinet minister Christopher Mitchelmore be reprimanded over the hiring of Carla Foote. 

House leader Siobhan Coady says release of report is breach of parliamentary privilege

A report by Bruce Chaulk is recommending cabinet minister Christopher Mitchelmore be reprimanded for a hiring controversy at The Rooms. (CBC)

The commissioner of legislative standards is recommending that cabinet minister Christopher Mitchelmore be reprimanded over the hiring of former Liberal staffer Carla Foote. 

Bruce Chaulk's report continuously refers to allegations that Mitchelmore "grossly mismanaged" his obligations with respect to the Code of Conduct.

The report includes two reports by the Office of the Citizens' Representative and a response from Mitchelmore.

"It is my recommendation to the legislature that Minister Mitchelmore be reprimanded to ensure that Minister's [sic] act diligently in the future when they are involved in matters which may impact the public purse and governance of crown boards and/or agencies," wrote Chaulk.

There were five allegations investigated by the citizens' representative. But just two allegations resulted in findings that Mitchelmore breached the code.

Mum at question period

Few details — if any — were gleaned during question period at the House of Assembly on Monday as Opposition leader Ches Crosbie peppered the Liberals with questions over a CBC story into the hiring of Foote at The Rooms.

House leader Siobhan Coady refused to answer pointed questions about the report, as it hadn't been tabled in the legislature and repeatedly said it was covered under parliamentary privilege and deals with a human resources matter.

However, immediately following question period, the report, titled "The Mitchelmore Report," was tabled in the House of Assembly, and posted online. 

Mitchelmore violated the provincial government's code of conduct when he hired the longtime Liberal staffer for a job at The Rooms and jacked up the salary, according to a report by the Office of the Citizens' Representative, a public body tasked with investigating whistleblower complaints.

Mitchelmore released a short statement through his communications staff Monday afternoon. He would not speak with reporters. 

"This matter will be dealt with in the House of Assembly and I will apologize. I have no further comment at this time," he said.

Government House leader Siobhan Coady has requested an investigation into how the report was leaked to CBC News. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Responding to the allegations in Chaulk's report, Mitchelmore's lawyer, Chris Peddigrew, said, "We strenuously deny he committed gross mismanagement and deny that corrective action is either appropriate or required."

Legislature debating leak, not Mitchelmore Report contents

Some members of the House of Assembly expressed concern over confidentiality, and indicated they want an investigation into who leaked the report.

"This is a matter of privilege of a report which should have been tabled and given to all members of the house before it was deliberated externally," Coady said.

She is requesting that the matter be sent to a standing committee to determine how it was leaked to CBC. 

Independent MHA Paul Lane went so far as to say the person or people who leaked the report should be fired.

The investigation started last winter — after Mitchelmore fielded a daily barrage of questions from journalists, but before The Rooms CEO Dean Brinton was cut loose with compensation and a confidentiality agreement.

The investigation found Mitchelmore told Brinton about the plan to hire Foote after she was already offered the job. 

According to the board of directors, Premier Dwight Ball is the one who ordered the hiring, something he denies.

Ball was in Toronto Monday at a meeting of Canada's premiers, but said in a statement that he was not involved with Foote's hiring.

"I've been catching up on the news out of the House of Assembly and I want to clarify that I did not direct anyone to hire Ms. Foote for a job at The Rooms," the statement said.

The matter continues to be debated in the House of Assembly. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?