POLITICS

Newfoundland and Labrador Tories end contract of key campaign official

07/08/2015 05:25 EDT | Updated 07/08/2016 05:59 EDT
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The Progressive Conservative party in Newfoundland and Labrador has ended the contract of a key campaign strategist as it prepares for an election this year, but it won't say if the decision is related to a report in New Brunswick over the alteration of a government record.

The party issued a one-sentence statement Wednesday announcing it had parted ways with Darell Fowlie.

"Due to information that the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador was made aware of recently, the party has concluded its contractual relationship with Mr. Darell Fowlie," said the statement.

Party spokeswoman Sharon Vokey confirmed Fowlie served as former New Brunswick premier David Alward's deputy minister of communications, but declined further comment, referring to the matter as "an employee-employer issue."

Fowlie could not be reached for comment.

He isn't named in a report prepared by New Brunswick's access to information and privacy commissioner on two deputy ministers who she says were involved in altering the 2013 guest list for a provincially owned lodge called Larry's Gulch after a request by a newspaper editor.

Anne Bertrand launched her review in February following a column by the ombudswoman for the chain of papers owned by Brunswick News Inc.

In the column, Patricia Graham alleged that an editor visited Larry's Gulch in 2013 and then, along with another editor, tried to get his name removed from the guest list before it became public by approaching Fowlie with his request.

Graham said an internal investigation by the newspaper alleged Murray Guy went to the lodge as a guest of Danny Allain, then-president and CEO of NB Liquor.

Graham said at the time that Guy, assistant managing editor at the Times and Transcript in Moncton, had resigned and Al Hogan, the paper's managing editor, was no longer employed by Brunswick News.

Bertrand's report says the government officials responsible for altering the guest list at the time were the deputy minister of tourism, heritage and culture and the deputy minister for communications in the premier's office.

The report did not recommend any charges be laid but she says changes to government records will not be tolerated in the future.

The report says the two unnamed officials explained what happened to the guest list. It says the premier's deputy minister of communications "wanted to do a favour for an editor friend,'' while the deputy minister of tourism "took it upon himself to protect the interests of NB Liquor on the basis it was paying more money than others to attend the lodge.''

The report says both officials also said they did not see a problem with changes being made to the list because it was historically filled with errors. The deputy minister of tourism said because of those errors, it had been changed before on a regular basis, the report says.

It says the deputy minister of communications in the premier's office "did not see the consequences of asking for changes to the list, and had no idea of the repercussions in doing so."

On Tuesday, New Brunswick's Liberal government asked the office of the attorney general to examine Bertrand's report.

Energy Minister Donald Arseneault asserted that altering records is a serious matter and announced that the case has been forwarded to the public prosecutions branch in the attorney general's office to review what action could be taken, if any.

Although neither deputy minister is named in Bertrand's report, Arseneault identified them, including Fowlie.