POLITICS

New Brunswick premier says he is confident in review on Greg Davis's expenses

03/20/2014 03:42 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - Premier David Alward says he has confidence in a New Brunswick legislative committee that is reviewing all the constituency allowance expenses of one of his backbenchers.

The legislative administration committee is reviewing all constituency allowance claims filed by Greg Davis since he was elected in September 2010.

The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and its findings will be made public.

"I look forward to seeing the information," Alward said in his first public comments since the controversy about Davis's spending arose last week.

Davis has not been in the legislature since it resumed for its spring session in February and Alward said he has not spoken to him since then.

Questions have mounted after Davis, the member for Campbellton-Restigouche Centre, announced in a statement last week that he would not run again in the upcoming election in September due to unspecified health reasons.

The Progressive Conservative party later said it had to cover $5,125 in rent for 2011-12 for Davis's riding office. That was followed by government spokesman Bob Fowlie saying Davis fell behind in his rent again, though Fowlie has not said how much Davis was in arrears.

Annual reports from the provincial comptroller's office say that Davis claimed his maximum allotment of $40,000 for constituency expenses in the fiscal years of 2011-12 and 2012-13.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy has filed a complaint with the province's conflict of interest commissioner, alleging Davis did not disclose the loan he received from the Progressive Conservative party in 2011-12.

Disclosure statements filed with the legislature for Davis's expenses make no mention of that loan.

"What we want to see now is a response from the Conservative party about why it took Mr. Davis's landlord seizing office equipment to make this story public for them to reveal the fact they've been propping up one of their members in his constituency expenses," Cardy said Thursday.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner confirmed it received Cardy's complaint on Thursday, but it did not include an affidavit as required for an investigation to begin.

Cardy's office said the affidavit would be filed with the commissioner Friday.

Cardy said once the Davis case is resolved, changes should be implemented to ensure member expenses are more open and transparent.

"There needs to be strict, firm laws that place people in politics under the most severe restrictions, because they are messing around with the public's cash," Cardy said.

The committee reviewing Davis's expenses meets in-camera. But Bill Fraser, the house leader for the Opposition Liberals, said he believes the meetings should be open, as they are in Nova Scotia.

Alward declined to answer whether the committee should have its meetings public, telling reporters deputy premier Paul Robichaud would be made available to speak on that issue. A spokesman for Robichaud later said he was not made available.