Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dunderdale strikes back

Late yesterday, as the story of the appointment of Bill Fanning, trustee of Premier Williams' business assets to to the Bull Arm Corporation board, the spokesperson of the department of Natural Resources Kathy Dunderdale issued a stirring defense.

In part, she notes that:

"To suggest that Mr. Fanning would use his new position to benefit his private interests is not only offensive, it actually calls into the question the integrity of every private citizen who is appointed by the government to a board or agency," said Minister Dunderdale. "Mr. Fanning is an exemplary example of the expertise that is required on these boards as we continue to develop the oil and gas industry. To suggest that appointed individuals are using their positions to benefit themselves is extremely unfair, and that type of rhetoric will only serve to discourage citizens who have a contribution to make to the betterment of this province."

Seldom were more irrelevant words spoken.

First, nobody is questioning that Mr. Fanning is qualified to help develop the oil and gas industry. That's like government defending him because he's a good citizen of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nobody nobody cares about that because that's not the issue.

Likewise, nobody is questioning the motives of Mr. Fanning in seeking advantage for himself. He is a businessman and his job is to seek advantage for himself and his interests.

As it turns out, his business interests are also the Premier's interests. Specifically we are talking about the Spectrol Group to whom the Premier has guaranteed loans and therefore has an ongoing interest in how the company is doing. He needs the company to do well and be a sucessful business otherwise he will lose his investment.

And we all know how the Premier is about money: ours, his or anybody's.

That's the issue: the Premier has used his office to give the legal representative of his business interests an appointment that will advantage the Premier's personal business interests.

So far the Premier has been sucessful in clearly showing that he is beyond reproach when it comes to using his political office for personal gain. Whether this is a case of conflict or not, it does not pass the famous sniff test - this whole thing smells very bad.

And now we have found that the white knight's shining suit of armour has a mean and dirty dent in it.

So when Mr. K. Parsons goes to the media and says that this appointment is questionable, the question he should go on to ask is:
Are there any other qualified persons in the province who could be appointed to the board of the province's oil/gas infrastructure facility who are not also the legal representative of the Premier's family business interests in the oil/gas service sector?
I can think of a few.

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