Liberal Leader Roger Melanson is shocked by the Premier’s revelation that Energy Minister Mike Holland was acting on behalf of the Higgs government when he wrote to the Energy and Utilities Board supporting a proposal by Irving Oil to increase the price of wholesale fuel oil, gasoline and diesel.
“The Minister’s actions in trying to influence the outcome of deliberations by an independent regulatory body like the Energy and Utilities Board are totally unacceptable, but it seems that he was given his marching orders from the Premier and if that is the case, it is deplorable and wrong on so many levels”, said Melanson. “A letter penned by a government official, on behalf of government, traditionally carries more weight than one penned by an average citizen. This was not sent on behalf of Mike Holland, a New Brunswick citizen, but on behalf of Minister Mike Holland, a member of the Executive Council acting in the name of the Higgs government.”
Melanson suggests that as a former Irving Oil executive, the Premier appears to be in a conflict of interest. The Opposition leader believes that the Premier has some serious questions to answer.
The Premier has said Minister Holland’s action was on behalf of government. Therefore, this raises multiple questions: Who made this decision on behalf of government? Was the Minister advised to send this letter, and if so, by whom? Did the Premier or his staff direct the Minister to send the letter? Was there any involvement in this matter by the Premier’s Office or the Executive Council? Did Irving Oil ask the Premier or his staff to send this letter? Did the Premier or the Minister or their staff members reach out directly to any of the members of the Energy and Utilities Board? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed.
“I believe the Integrity Commissioner should look into this matter and we will be filing a complaint under the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act” said Melanson.