FREDERICTON - New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant says his government will not tolerate patronage after an email sent by the president of a Liberal riding association said it is the usual practice that government road contracts are given to supporters of the party in power.
Gallant said his office is looking into the matter after the Opposition Progressive Conservatives made public on Wednesday an email sent from an email address belonging to Myer Rabin, the president of the Riverview Liberal riding association.
"It is the usual practice that upon a change of government road work contracts are made available to supporters of the government in power," says the email, which was dated Monday. The recipients of the email were blacked out.
"Ian Pelkey of Cathy Roger's office has enquired if we are aware of any Liberal companies or individuals in Riverview that may wish to bid on such contracts. Please advise if you have any names to suggest."
Pelkey is the executive assistant for Cathy Rogers, the member for Moncton South and the social development minister.
Neither Rabin nor Rogers returned requests for comment.
Bruce Fitch, the interim leader of the Tories and the member for Riverview, said the email indicates that Gallant has failed to live up to his promise of practising politics differently.
"It suggests that the same old bunch and their idea of doing things differently is again just to look after their Liberal friends and supporters," Fitch said.
Gallant said it would be unfair of him to assume the intent behind the email.
"But if he gave the impression that there would be any kind of favouritism when giving out any kind of contract from government, it's inappropriate and inaccurate," Gallant said in a conference call with reporters from Houston, where was attending meetings with energy companies.
He said he'll ask his staff to take a closer look at the matter and he thanked Fitch for making it public.
If it is determined that anyone in the government was trying to imply that the Liberals would have a better chance of getting contracts, then there will be consequences, he added. He didn't say what those consequences would be.
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