Partisan appointment undermines integrity of public engagement office: Coffin

For immediate release

Feb. 7, 2020

Partisan appointment undermines integrity of public engagement office: Coffin


NDP Leader Alison Coffin says government’s latest move in the Carla Foote saga will corrupt the public’s faith in the work of the Office of Public Engagement. Yesterday, we learned that Foote had resigned her executive position in marketing at The Rooms for a new appointment as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Office of Public Engagement (OPE). Despite Minister Mitchelmore and government insisting on Foote’s specific qualifications in marketing and communications, they are now presenting her as qualified in public engagement.


“Public engagement should not be a partisan process. Ms. Foote’s extensive ties to the Liberals and background in Liberal communications contradict unbiased, non-partisan public engagement,” said Coffin.


“A partisan Liberal appointment will undermine the integrity of the OPE,” said Coffin. “Public engagement must be non-partisan, unbiased, and objective.”


“The OPE’s role is to listen to the public and gather input – it must be separated from the Liberals’ political communications strategy,” said Coffin.


Coffin says this appointment shows that government wants to control the public engagement process.


“They want to ensure public engagement reflects their agenda rather than have unbiased and independent advice and input from the people of our province,” said Coffin. “Have they forgotten that a key pillar of democratic reform is effective, unbiased, and meaningful public engagement?”

“Is this the tip of the iceberg?” asks Coffin. “In the past four days we have learned of a second patronage appointment for Foote and more disturbing details about the hiring of a former deputy minister to a $350,000 per year consultant position at Nalcor.”


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For further information, contact Zaren Healey White, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), 693-9172 (c), or zarenhealeywhite@gov.nl.ca.

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