POLITICS

New Brunswick lodge list review details emails on request to withhold info

02/24/2015 11:14 EST | Updated 04/26/2015 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - The premier's office, the Tourism Department and NB Liquor exchanged emails to withhold names from the guest list of a fishing lodge owned by the province even though they were already made public through an access-to-information request, an internal review says.

Edith Doucet, the clerk of New Brunswick's executive council, conducted a review of the guest lists for Larry's Gulch in 2013.

Doucet's review was launched after the ombudswoman for the newspaper chain that includes the Moncton Times and Transcript alleged in a column that one editor visited Larry's Gulch in July of that year and then, along with another editor, tried to have a deputy minister of communications in former premier David Alward's government remove his name from the guest list.

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

The Fredericton Daily Gleaner received the 2013 list that named Guy as a guest of NB Liquor after it filed an access-to-information request, the report released Tuesday says. Later, L'Acadie Nouvelle also filed an access-to-information request but the report says the list it received had Guy's name and others removed, with the three-day visit to the lodge paid for by NB Liquor marked as private.

In her report released, Doucet details a chronology of emails between a former employee in Alward's office, a Tourism Department employee and an employee at NB Liquor about not releasing the names of the guests for the NB Liquor meeting. The report does not include their names.

There were requests from staff in the Tourism Department and the premier's office to have someone at NB Liquor send an email saying they did not want the names released because it might harm the competitive position of their guests, she said.

Doucet said her review has raised "a number of areas of serious concern" and the government may want to have an independent third party do a more comprehensive review.

Attorney General Serge Rousselle said in a statement he agrees the review raises serious concerns and the government will respond within days.

Doucet also recommends the access to information and privacy commissioner conduct her own review, something that Anne Bertrand is doing.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives issued a statement Tuesday saying they support an independent review.