PEI

PNP inquiry 'would clear the air,' says former top Ghiz staffer

P.E.I. needs to hold a public inquiry into the provincial nominee program, says a former key employee in premier Robert Ghiz's office.

Allan Rankin calls on Premier Wade MacLauchlan to hold public inquiry into provincial nominee program

Allan Rankin, former clerk of the executive council, says P.E.I. didn't learn the lessons it should have from the PNP. (CBC)

P.E.I. needs to hold a public inquiry into the provincial nominee program, says a former key employee in premier Robert Ghiz's office.

While Allan Rankin applauds the steps the current Premier Wade MacLauchlan is taking now to strengthen conflict of interest rules, he suggests more could be done with an investigation into PNP.

"A public inquiry is the only way to get to the bottom of the PNP," Rankin told CBC News.

"It could be limited in scope, it could be inexpensive. A public inquiry would allow for evidence to be gathered, subpoenas issued, all relevant important documents disclosed. This has not taken place to date in my opinion," said Rankin, who was former clerk of the executive council under Ghiz.

He says the upside for Islanders of bringing any further improprieties related to the program out into the open would be "to finally clear the air on this particular matter, publicly."

When asked for a response on Friday, MacLauchlan issued a statement reiterating his commitment to openness and transparency and new conflict guidelines for the province, particularly as they pertain to deputy ministers and senior political advisors.

He also pointed out the PNP has already been reviewed by the auditor general, the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Rankin wrote ethics report in 2009

A report called An Ethics Management System for Prince Edward Island containing 22 recommendations to strengthen the province's conflict of interest rules was drawn up by Rankin in the wake of the PNP scandal in 2009.

Copies were circulated to deputy ministers in all government departments for feedback, but ultimately the report wasn't adopted.

His report points to shortcomings in the guidelines to determine conflict of interest for civil servants.

And it says MLAs are held to a lower standard in matters of ethics and conduct because of problems with the Conflict of Interest Act.

This week the recommendations were reprinted in the Graphic newspapers.

So was a column by Rankin.

His overall message is P.E.I. never learned the lessons it should have from PNP, which brought thousands of immigrants to the province in exchange for their investments in local businesses.

Rankin has been very critical in his columns about how the program was administered.

Six years later, Rankin says if these changes had been made, they might have prevented some current issues around conflict of interest.

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