Community Services Minister has some explaining to do

June 26, 2014

NDP MLA Dave Wilson says a series of misleading statements by Joanne Bernard raise doubts about the appointment of Liberal MLA Patricia Arab’s constituency assistant to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The individual in question is also the wife of Joanne Bernard’s Executive Assistant and the daughter-in-law of Stephen McNeil’s fundraising president, Liberal Senator Terry Mercer.

“According to the law, this appointment is to be made by the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Woman, and that’s Joanne Bernard,” said Wilson. “If this person is the most qualified for the appointment the Minister needs to explain why. The fact that she’s made inaccurate comments about the process is cause for concern.”

Wilson says two questionable statements by Bernard stand out.

Yesterday, the Chronicle Herald reported that Bernard said there were “no other applicants that applied besides the seven approved Wednesday.” Today, the Chronicle Herald updated the story to show Bernard’s original comments weren’t accurate and that 21 people had applied for the board.

Bernard also claimed she had “no hand” in the appointment telling the Chronicle Herald: “it goes through the executive council’s office like every other committee in government.” But according to the Act that governs the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, “The Council shall be composed of such members as are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister.” http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/advisory.htm

Similarly, the Nova Scotia government web site states that Ministers make appointments to government agencies, boards and commissions from a short list of qualified candidates. http://www.novascotia.ca/exec_council/abc/adjudicative-process-overview.asp

“I’m not sure how the Minister can claim she had no role in this appointment” said Wilson. “Did she recuse herself from this appointment? Is she not fulfilling her duties as Minister? Or she is just not being forthcoming?”

Wilson says after the blatant patronage hiring of Glennie Langille the public expects added scrutiny over Liberal appointments.

“Time and time again Stephen McNeil’s government hasn’t kept its election promises,” said Wilson. “They said they would put Nova Scotians first, but now we now know this isn’t exactly as advertised.”