Premier needs to immediately address loan write off lie: Fox

Borden-Carleton – Revelations that the Finance Minister misled the Legislature about securing independent review and approval of loan write off legislation from the Auditor General needs to be immediately addressed by Premier MacLauchlan, says Opposition Leader Jamie Fox.

“Misleading the House and Islanders about a major piece of legislation is a serious matter and needs to be addressed by the Premier immediately. I could see maybe making the comment once or even twice as a slip of the tongue but for the Finance Minister to make the same comment five times raises grave questions,” said Fox.

During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts yesterday it was revealed that the Auditor General had not reviewed and signed off on government’s proposed loan write off legislation. This revelation by Auditor General Jane MacAdam contradicted repeated assertions made on the floor of the Legislature on December 2nd, 2015, by Finance Minister Allen Roach that the Auditor General had indeed reviewed and signed off on the draft legislation. Roach made the comment five times in response to questions from MLA’s about the proposed bill’s scope and effectiveness to address concerns raised in the 2015 Auditor General’s Report about disclosures of government loan write offs.

“This flies in the face of all government’s claims of transparency. How are Islanders supposed to believe anything this government says on things like the HST, a carbon tax, service reductions and job cuts?” asked Fox.

A backgrounder on the Minister’s comments can be found below.

Backgrounder - Hansard comments by Finance Minister Allen Roach on An Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act, December 2, 2015:

Mr. Roach: Yes. I assure you that our staff has had conversation with the Auditor General with respect to this legislation and to the words that are contained in the legislation. The Auditor General, at this time, is satisfied with the wording and with the legislation and is confident that it will achieve her recommendation that was clearly outlined in 5.29 of her recommendations. - P. 1969

Mr. Roach: I will say that in terms of how this legislation was written, there is a legislative group that looked at this, lawyers, and we sat down – our staff did – with the Auditor General. The Auditor General is satisfied that this legislation, the way that it is written, will confirm and fall in line with the recommendation that she made with respect to the authorization requirements for write-offs and cancellations in amounts owing to the province. - P. 1971

Mr. Roach: Thank you for the question. I believe that the government has responded in a very positive way to the one recommendation that was made by the Auditor General to the minister of finance, and we’ve reviewed this clause 26.1 and reviewed it with counsel and reviewed it with our legislative counsel and reviewed it with the Auditor General, and the Auditor General is satisfied that this will provide the transparency that she was seeking when she made her recommendation. - P. 1973

Mr. Roach: Yes. I think the Auditor General in her report recognized that around 2002 the transparency eroded and brought it to the point where it is today. We feel certain that this legislation, with the advice that we’ve received from legal counsel and from Legislative Counsel, and from the Auditor General,  that this is going to correct what started to take place around 2002. - P. 1973

Mr. Roach: To respond to your question which I think I heard in there that you made reference to what the Auditor General has asked us to do. We clarified her recommendation with her in discussion. We clarified the discussions that we had with respect to – when we wrote this up we went back to the Auditor General and had discussions around that. The Auditor General felt that the clarification was there. - P. 1975


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