POLITICS

Review of New Brunswick fishing lodge guest list will be released: premier

02/19/2015 01:02 EST | Updated 04/21/2015 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - A review to determine whether the guest list of a fishing lodge owned by the New Brunswick government was altered will be made public and tabled in the legislature, Premier Brian Gallant said Thursday.

The government is taking the time it needs to do the review, he said, but hopes to have it done in the next couple of weeks or sooner.

On Monday, the ombudswoman for the newspaper chain that includes the Times and Transcript in Moncton alleged in a column that one editor visited the lodge and then, along with another editor, tried to get the list altered to remove his name before it became public.

Ombudswoman Patricia Graham says Murray Guy, assistant managing editor at the Times and Transcript in Moncton, has resigned and Al Hogan, the paper's managing editor, is no longer employed by Brunswick News Inc.

Graham alleges that Guy misled the company by insisting he had not gone to the lodge, and that Guy and Hogan tried to have a deputy minister of communications in former premier David Alward's government change the guest list before releasing it to the media. Alward has said he does not know if that happened.

Neither of the former editors could be reached for comment Thursday.

The government has since announced a new policy that gives booking priority to private sector groups at Larry's Gulch.

Gallant said bookings by government departments or agencies must be justified.

"We believe it can be an asset if properly used. That means that we try to build relationships that will help us create jobs and grow the economy or help with intergovernmental affairs," he said.

Gallant said the future of the lodge is part of a strategic program review to determine how the lodge should be used or if it should be sold.

From now on, Gallant said the guest lists for the lodge will automatically be made public.

In 2013, the previous Progressive Conservative government began requiring guests to sign a waiver that allowed their names to be released if requested by the media or the public. Gallant said guests lists prior to 2012 will also be released, but only after a right to information request.