Job McNeil once described as patronage post moves to civil service

The Nova Scotia government has posted the job of chief protocol officer, which is currently being held by Glennie Langill, a former Liberal staffer, candidate and one-time confidant of Stephen McNeil.

Former Liberal staffer, candidate Glennie Langille will have to apply to keep her job as chief of protocol

Glennie Langille is shown with Stephen McNeil during the 2013 election campaign. (CBC)

One-time Liberal staffer, party candidate and Stephen McNeil adviser Glennie Langille will have to apply if she wants to keep the job handed to her by the premier not long after he was elected in 2013.

At the time, McNeil defended his decision to appoint Langille as Nova Scotia's chief protocol officer, rather than have her compete for the job. He said he was only doing what previous governments had done, and suggested it was better than placing her in a permanent civil service job.

"We have not strapped any future government, we did not put the chief protocol officer in the public service," he told reporters on Dec. 3, 2013.

But a Nova Scotia government job posted Tuesday by the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs has listed the chief of protocol as a permanent civil service job, with a salary range of $91,800 to $114,700.

That is more than the $88,555.05 Langille earned last year, according to the province's year-end accounts.

Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters Thursday he didn't suggest the change. Officials in the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs did so, he said, as part of a restructuring of duties to add military relations to the job.

"They brought the idea to me and I said the only stipulation from me is you have to post the job," he said.

Job duties

The job, as described in the online posting, seems to have expanded beyond the current mostly ceremonial duties of the office. The protocol office is now responsible for co-ordinating, among other things, official ceremonies and events, as well as official visits by members of the royal family, heads of state and government, ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls general.

"You will administer, supervise and oversee all protocol programs, as well as all aspects of official visits to the province," says the posting. "This position manages Nova Scotia's engagement with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Veterans Affairs Canada and related organizations, and all government ceremonies and functions." 

Those who might be interested have just six days to apply. There is a separate form for "all current employees who wish to be considered an internal candidate."

Langille ran under the Liberal banner in the con stituency of Pictou West in the October 2013 election. She finished third behind winner Karla MacFarlane of the PCs and New Democrat Charlie Parker, who had represented the riding.

Before the election Langille was being paid by the caucus office as a director of outreach.

2014 controversy

McNeil was forced to defend her appointment again in 2014 when emails obtained by the NDP showed his chief of staff directing Langille to change the resumé she submitted for the job because he didn't think it worked "for the purpose you requested."

At the time, the premier's office issued a brief statement saying Langille's 30-year career as a journalist made her qualified for the post.

The office also confirmed that other people had applied for the job, but a competition was never held.

"No rules were broken in appointing Ms. Langille," McNeil's statement said. "[The cabinet] has the ability to hire people for certain jobs without holding a competition."  

Langille has been in the job since January 2014.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.