POLITICS

Ex-civil servant won't be able to lobby for oil and gas: New Brunswick minister

01/18/2012 03:28 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's natural resources minister says a former government adviser on shale gas development won't have access to cabinet ministers now that she's a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.

Bruce Northrup said Angie Leonard — who is also the energy minister's sister — will not be allowed to speak about the industry with members of cabinet.

"It's business as usual for me talking to industry as we have done in the past, but she won't be part of the equation," Northrup said Thursday.

Leonard was a member of a group of provincial civil servants developing regulations for the shale gas industry until last week, when she left to become an adviser for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Paul Barnes, the Atlantic Canada manager for the association, said he expected the government would have restrictions.

"We would certainly honour any request that the government would have with respect to restrictions on Angie's dialogue with government," he said in an interview from Calgary.

In her new job, Leonard will be responsible for working with communities and business leaders on onshore oil and natural gas development in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Liberal Opposition Leader Victor Boudreau said he fears Leonard will still be too cosy with the government.

"As much as I don't want to put emphasis on the fact that she is the minister's sister — she's the minister's sister," he said. "Is she going to stop talking to her brother?

"There are direct links here that she has with various government officials and she obviously has access to the (government) a lot easier than the average New Brunswicker does."

Boudreau said that there needs to be improvements to conflict-of-interest legislation as well as a lobbyist registry.

Legislation for a lobbyist registry was introduced last year but it was not passed. The government has said it intends to reintroduce the legislation this spring.