Nfld. & Labrador

Sullivan says no conflict in taking OCI job

The former fisheries conservation ambassador denies his job at Ocean Choice International puts him in a conflict of interest.

Former federal ambassador for fisheries conservation says he got clearance for new role

Canada's former fisheries conservation ambassador denies that his job at Ocean Choice International puts him in a conflict of interest.

Loyola Sullivan is defending his move to a private sector job with OCI. (CBC)

Loyola Sullivan joined OCI last June to oversee resource management and sustainability.

He says he cleared the appointment with the ethics commissioner before accepting the position.

"Prior to taking this job, I did submit, to (the) conflict of interest (commissioner) last June, my job description to them," Sullivan said.

"I spoke to them on at least two occasions, and was given the go-ahead to be able to accept this employment." 

Sullivan says he doesn't use any confidential information from his old job, for his work in the private sector.

He says his dealings as ambassador were at the international level and he wasn't involved in making decisions on Canadian fisheries policies.

"I didn't deal with, not only OCI ... I didn't deal with any Canadian companies on issues or policy. I didn't formulate policy, I don't advise on domestic policy." 

Provincial Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett has asked the federal ethics and conflict of interest commissioner to review whether Sullivan is following the rules.

Commissioner Mary Dawson told CBC News she will look into the matter.

Bennett says Sullivan should sit out for a one-year cooling-off period before taking on private-sector employment.

Union reaction

Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, also raised questions about Sullivan’s job with OCI.

While McCurdy acknowledged he is not an expert on federal conflict of interest legislation, he said Sullivan’s hiring seems to be the kind of situation to which it would apply.

The union leader said Sullivan worked as an ambassador dealing with the federal fisheries department, "and now he's in the position of making representations to them."

McCurdy said he has witnessed Sullivan lobbying senior federal officials.

"I've personally attended two meetings in the last month where he was clearly making representations designed to influence federal government decisions in a particular manner," McCurdy said.

"To suggest he's only dealing with internal matters is nonsense."