Author by : JOHN CHILIBECK
Photo by : JOHN CHILIBECK
Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault has taken a trades union job in Ottawa.
FREDERICTON • Former New Brunswick cabinet minister Donald Arseneault is under fire for working two jobs.
Arseneault has begun working as government relations manager for Canada’s Building Trades Unions, while holding down his job as the Liberal MLA for Campbellton-Dalhousie.
Both the Tories and the Greens say he shouldn’t do both jobs at once.
Arseneault – who resigned his cabinet job as minister of post-secondary education, training and labour in September, announcing he wouldn’t run in the 2018 election – wouldn’t do an interview Monday, but Premier Brian Gallant addressed questions about the MLA’s status during a media conference in Fredericton.
“For us what’s important is the conflict-of-interest commissioner would go through it with anyone that would have any other responsibility while sitting as an MLA,” Gallant said Monday. “Mr. Arseneault did go to the conflict-of-interest commissioner to ask his opinion and I can only assume he’s following the recommendations and if he’s not, I’m sure we’ll hear from the commissioner.”
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner for New Brunswick, as it is now officially called, declined an interview request Monday.
In an email, Rosanne Landry-Richard, the executive assistant to commissioner Alexandre Deschênes, cited a specific section of the law.
“The advice and recommendations of the commissioner are confidential until released by the member or former member or with his or her consent,” she wrote. “Therefore, the commissioner declines to discuss this matter to any extent.”
Gallant said in the past, plenty of other MLAs had worked two jobs at once. For instance, when Rick Doucet was a Liberal opposition member in 2011, he worked as the executive director of the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation. He took that job only two years after serving as fisheries minister in the government of Shawn Graham.
Members of the legislative assembly have a base salary of $85,000.
Canada’s Building Trades Unions’ head office is in Ottawa and Arseneault is listed as having a phone number there.
Tory MLA Jeff Carr said he was surprised his Liberal counterpart wasn’t in a conflict of interest.
“If the legislation shows Donald’s not in conflict, obviously the legislation needs to be adjusted or brought up to date,” he said. “It’s almost impossible for Donald Arseneault to work in government relations while sitting in caucus and not lobby government. I don’t see how that’s possible.”
Carr said Arseneault should recuse himself from caucus discussions, quit the labour job or resign his seat.
Green Party leader David Coon said he visited Arseneault’s riding just last week and said he was struck by the challenges the community is facing.
“Mr. Arseneault has a lot of work to do up there,” Coon said. “I’m surprised he has time to do two jobs.”