Furey ignores demands to table receipts for trip to luxury fishing lodge
Furey insists he's followed the rules
During question period on Wednesday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey once again ignored demands to table receipts for his trip to a fishing lodge owned by a billionaire behind a major wind energy project proposed for the Port au Port Peninsula.
PC Opposition House leader Barry Petten has asked Furey multiple times to table the receipts in the House of Assembly this week, to no avail.
Furey again insisted that his "ethical wall" is enough to dispel any perceived conflict of interest involving John Risley, the chairman of World Energy GH2, the company behind the proposal.
"I've always followed the rules, I'll continue to follow the rules. In this case, I went beyond the rules," he said.
Furey said Industry, Energy and Technology Minister Andrew Parsons is handling the approval process for the 32 proponents of proposed wind energy projects in Newfoundland and Labrador and he isn't involved himself.
But Petten said Furey's "ethical wall" isn't good enough.
"He wants us to trust him? The answer is no, it's a flat no," Petten said, before asking Furey who paid for the trip.
Furey has repeatedly said the trip, first reported by online news outlet AllNewfoundlandLabrador, was a personal vacation, and he paid his way to the lodge.
"My time, my dime, full stop," Furey said to applause from his own caucus.
Opposition MHAs criticize timing of hospital announcement
The opposition is tying that trip to an announcement this week involving a St. John's hospital.
After the provincial government said Monday that it plans to replace St. Clare's Mercy Hospital in St. John's, PC and NDP MHAs criticized the announcement, which some groups, including the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, have said was a surprise.
Interim NDP Leader Jim Dinn noted that the Health Accord N.L. — a government-commissioned plan for the province's health-care system — doesn't recommend replacing the aging facility. He said the provincial government should focus on recruitment and retention.
"Let's try to deal with the staffing issues first," he said.
Furey and Health Minister Tom Osborne have insisted the provincial government can work on staffing and infrastructure problems in tandem.
Osborne said a "large piece of steel" fell off the hospital and landed on a walkway earlier this year.
"The building needs to be replaced," he said.
Decision made in August
During question period, Petten criticized the timing of the announcement
"Was this announcement pulled out of thin air or to deflect from your fishing trip?" he asked.
Furey countered by saying data — specifically the increasing and aging population of the St. John's region — points to a need for a new hospital and more acute-care beds.
Two days after Monday's announcement, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure held a technical briefing about the provincial government's approval process for infrastructure like the replacement for St. Clare's.
During the briefing, officials said the provincial government decided to proceed with the replacement, which they said is a high priority, in August — about two months before the premier made those plans public.
During question period, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Elvis Loveless said discussions about replacing the hospital had started within the past year, during the budgetary process.
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