The NDP is calling on the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to take a deeper look into then-Minister of Government Relations Donna Harpauer’s undeclared personal vacations on the Village of Pinehouse’s dime. In December the Commissioner looked into the Village paying for her and her partner’s hotel accommodation. Recent Freedom of Information requests show that on the same two occasions, the Minister’s partner also had his guided fishing tours covered by the Village, but they were not declared or reimbursed.
“It stretches the imagination to hear the Minister say she was unaware of these additional expenses – it didn’t pass the smell test then and it doesn’t pass the smell test now,” said NDP Ethics and Democracy Critic David Forbes. “Especially when she was asked point blank in the Legislature back in May if her trip entailed any other expenses beyond hotel bills.”
Forbes sent a letter to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner today requesting a more in-depth investigation of these undisclosed gifts. At the time of the trips, serious concerns had been raised about multiple infractions of provincial FOI legislation and financial irregularities at the Village office and, as Minister responsible, Harpauer had formally committed her Ministry to working with the Village to ensure compliance. In April, Harpauer recused herself from caucus discussions related to Pinehouse.
“It shouldn’t take multiple FOIs and several years to pass for the Minister to be transparent with the people of Pinehouse and the province about gifts she had failed to declare,” Forbes said. “We hope the Conflict of Interest Commissioner can get to the bottom of this.”