N.B. MLA takes second job as government relations manager with CBTU
Taking a second job isn't unusual, but when it comes to a sitting New Brunswick MLA taking a job as the government relations manager for Canada's Building Trades Unions, more than a few are scratching their heads.
Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault's new role doesn't break any rules, according to New Brunswick’s integrity commissioner.
“Even if you're technically not breaking the rules, it doesn't look good,” says University of New Brunswick political scientist Don Wright.
Wright says perception is critical in any political landscape, whatever the reality may be.
“The perception of them lining their own pockets, the perception of them taking care of themselves, it really is bad,” Wright says. “I think Donald Arseneault should probably resign as a MLA and, good on the guy, work full time in Ottawa.”
Arseneault says his responsibilities will not include lobbying. While his new role was approved by the province's integrity commissioner, it was done so with a warning.
Premier Brian Gallant says every proper channel has been followed.
“It's very important that any MLA that would have other responsibilities or another job would check with the integrity commissioner to make sure that is O.K., and we understand that is exactly what happened in this case,” Gallant said.
Arseneault was shuffled out of cabinet in September. The Opposition is referring to a mandate letter sent from Premier Gallant to Arseneault in 2014 when he was named to cabinet.
“I would like to quote them. ‘It is not enough to avoid conflict of interest. You must also be diligent in avoiding the perception of such,’” New Brunswick PC MLA Ted Flemming said.
Premier Gallant wouldn't answer the question if conflict-of-interest rules should be tightened. The Tories say if Gallant doesn't do it, they'll quickly bring forward a bill.
Don Wright doesn't know what the PCs will offer.
“But I certainly do applaud any attempt to tighten up these gaps and loopholes that allow someone to work two jobs at once and potentially lobby a government while sitting in government,” Wright says.
Donald Arseneault has indicated he won't be running for re-election in the fall of 2018, but will stay on as an MLA until then.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.