POLITICS

New Brunswick premier critical of Liberal leader over conflict ruling

02/20/2013 11:10 EST | Updated 04/22/2013 05:12 EDT
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick Premier David Alward isn't saying what should happen next in his predecessor's conflict of interest case but he does want to know where the current Liberal leader stands.

On Monday, the conflict of interest commissioner ruled that former Liberal premier Shawn Graham was in a conflict when he approved $50 million in loan guarantees in 2009 for the construction firm Atcon.

Patrick Ryan said Graham should have removed himself from cabinet discussions over the loan guarantees because his father was a director of a subsidiary of Atcon.

Graham said it was an oversight and he takes full responsibility.

Despite the financial assistance, Atcon went bankrupt a year later.

"The public service recommended against the funding," Alward said Wednesday. "The government including Shawn Graham and (then-finance minister) Victor Boudreau made clear decisions to go against that and we saw tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers money wasted very soon after."

Alward wouldn't comment on Ryan's recommendation of a reprimand and $3,500 fine, saying that will be up to the legislature to decide.

But he does want to know where Liberal Leader Brian Gallant stands on the previous government's handling of the file.

"Does he support the people of New Brunswick or does he support Shawn Graham and Victor Boudreau?" Alward asked.

Gallant was out of the province and not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

He issued a statement on Monday that accepted Ryan's decision and agreed that even the perception of a conflict should be avoided.