Today in the House of Assembly, NDP MHAs continued efforts to get government to respond to questions about the conflict of interest controversy swirling around the former top public servant in the province. Bernard Coffey was conducting legal actions against public bodies while holding the position of Clerk of the Executive Council.
“Media across Canada have reported on the Bernard Coffey resignation with headlines such as ‘Beyond Bizarre’ and ‘Ball says he would do it all over again,’” NDP House Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi) said in Question Period today.
“I ask the Premier, will government establish an ethics office to guide them on ethical matters in the future?” Michael also wanted to know the extent of the knowledge of the minister responsible for the province’s health boards. “On the day he was hired, the former Clerk sued Western Health on behalf of a client,” she said. “I ask the Minister of Health and Community Services, when were you made aware of the lawsuit, and that it was the Clerk who was representing the plaintiff?”
Justice Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) asked about the Justice Minister’s involvement. “I ask the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, after being informed by his officials Mr. Coffey was going to continue as a lawyer in private practice, why did he think it was acceptable for the Clerk to act as a lawyer working contrary to the best interests of government and the people of this province?” She then inquired, “I ask the Minister of Justice, why did he not refer this matter to the Conflict Of Interest Advisory Committee, as created by the Conflict of Interest Act?”