Dunderdale defensive over AG report

James
James McLeod
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The provincial government does have an infrastructure plan: it’s called “the budget.”

That was the message Premier Kathy Dunderdale delivered to reporters Thursday, battling criticism from acting auditor general Wayne Loveys, who reported this week the government does not have a formal infrastructure strategy.

Dunderdale also said her government values openness and transparency, despite the charge that officials had refused to turn over documents to the acting auditor general.

In Wednesday’s report, Loveys said he had been refused access to the documents that detail how the government chose roughly $5 billion in infrastructure projects.

Loveys found that despite many references to the government’s “Infrastructure Strategy,” there is no formal document detailing a process for prioritizing infrastructure spending.

“When we determined that there was no formal document (for) infrastructure it was decided to determine what process existed at the departmental level to identify, evaluate and rank potential infrastructure projects,” the acting AG wrote in his report.

When he asked for documents along those lines, he was told many of those documents inform cabinet decisions and are, therefore, outside his scope.

Loveys disagreed with that interpretation and formally re-ported the government denied him access to relevant documents.

Dunderdale said cabinet documents are only a narrow classification, and Loveys should have been able to do his job by looking at different material.

“I think there are other ways for him to get that information, other than from cabinet documents,” she said.

“There are reams and reams of information that’s made available to the auditor general,” said Dunderdale.

“It’s just the information that’s pulled in for the preparation of a cabinet document — and there aren’t that many cabinet documents — that are excluded.”

On the issue of the government’s lack of a formal strategy, she said the strategic infrastructure direction is instead laid out in budgets and throne speeches.

“We don’t have a formal strategy document, under what school we’re going to build this year or what hospital we’re going to build this year. All of these requests come forward, they’re all considered in the budget process, we lay out a plan for doing this work,” she said. “That’s what the budget is all about, that lays out your infrastructure strategy for the upcoming year right there.”

Neither the NDP nor Liberals were happy with what Dunderdale had to say.

“The government is really in contempt of the voters,” NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said. “If they’re spending $5 billion on infrastructure, then the auditor general should be able to determine how that $5 billion was being distributed, and how the decisions were made.”

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball agreed, and said if he was premier he would give the auditor general free rein to look at whatever documents he deemed necessary.

The one point where Dunderdale agreed with the Loveys was on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Loveys was denied access there, too, but Dunderdale said he should have been allowed in.

However, as a joint provincial-federal body, Dunderdale has no power to order it.

“I don’t disagree with the auditor general auditing the CNLOPB, I don’t ever have an issue with that,” she said. “I’m not responsible for the CNLOPB, if I could direct the CNLOPB to allow the auditor general in, then I would allow it. I don’t have that authority.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Acting, NDP

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Recent comments

  • shane
    January 30, 2012 - 02:25

    Does anyone really think that this uneducated bufoon/dunderdale is running the show? She is merely a puppet 4 the big wigs at Nalcor who will stop at nothing to get what they want

  • kevin
    January 28, 2012 - 05:31

    well why doesn't ms the premier just let the AG do his work? sure seems like there is something to hide, and that has happened before! We pay our taxes and government is by the people and for the people...we are the government after all! They put Ryan Cleary thru the wringer for speaking his mind....he has guts and isnt scared of the truth, koodos to him, too bad there is no one else in provincial or federal politics who are not scared to speak their minds? And where did that mouth manning come from, he crawled out of some fox hole in Ottawa to blast Ryan Cleary,,,well crawl back in manning, you are a sly one, in your "no work" job clawing your salary from our tax dollars, what a tragedy

  • tom
    January 27, 2012 - 23:28

    How they decided who to give the contracts to? Check to see which ones are PC supporters and 'friends' and you will know why they won't give out the information to the AG.

  • joe
    January 27, 2012 - 20:25

    There is some truth what TOWNIE says, but townie keep in mind this is the same attitude Harper has toward all of NL--including St. Johns

  • BigLandMan
    January 27, 2012 - 17:09

    I'll say this to Dunderdale & Co.: It's 'OUR MONEY', 'OUR TAXES' that 'OUR' Auditor General is checking up on. Definitely not governments and we have every right to clearly see where it is going, without smoke screens or any barriers. Come clean Kathy & do it now. Stop trying to sugar coat issues.

  • doggy
    January 27, 2012 - 16:20

    One miniute we are told that there is cabinet privilege for documents and we cannot have them, the next we are told the information can be obtained from other sources. Does that make any sense ?.

  • Bert
    January 27, 2012 - 16:09

    I wonder sometimes how municipal governments meet every two weeks for low pay and the Provincial government meets a couple times a year at good pay and even better pensions....

  • Stephen
    January 27, 2012 - 15:59

    It's called an Infrastructure strategy, the AG, as I understood the report, couldn't find that there was any evidence of a documented strategy or plan. It would imply over- and fore-sight, that the money was and would be spend where the impact and/or need was greatest. You, the Dunderdale Government "can't" show us how or why you chose to spend the money (MY/OUR money) in the manner you did, so what are we suppose to think? After listening to the press conference, you'd have us believe the AG and Tely are wrong; Prove it. The last time MHAs had funds and no oversight, we were robbed.

  • Will
    January 27, 2012 - 14:27

    Come on people remember it’s the local newspaper you’re reading … only believe half of what you see in the pictures and none of what you read. The funnies and puzzles are the best parts.

  • townie
    January 27, 2012 - 13:13

    No doubt the infrastructure will be tilted towards the smaller communities. Us city folk always end up subsidizing the rural lifestyle. Hopefully someday Joey's dream of closing down communities that drain the economy will come to fruition. Unless a rural community can sustain itself without subsidies for transportation and energy, no new infrastructure should be built period. Those in larger centers shouldn't carry the burden of those who live off of the hard work of others.

  • Gerry McManus
    January 27, 2012 - 12:45

    We have a possible hydro project which is the biggest financial investment of the public purse in our history but this Premier publicly states that such an issue does not belong in or deserve debate in the House of Assemby, because in her words "the House enacts legislation". Where has she been for the past 8 years of PC government? The use of public dollars deserve public discussion in the public forum of the House. We need public officials like the Auditor General to remind government that they are spending the public's money - not political party money. No information, no discussion and no accountability is a lethal characteristic for any political movement to adopt.

  • Robert Miller
    January 27, 2012 - 12:07

    Eventually the information the AG requested must be made available. At that time it will be revealed if Premier Dunderdale was right in apply the cabinet document privileges. For now its clear Premier Dunderdale was unable to foresee a five billion dollar question hitting the press.

  • MBC
    January 27, 2012 - 11:10

    Dunderdale.....your defense, well I'll say this....ha, ha, ha, ha , ha , ha , ha and ha, ha. Who gave you this explanation, was it Kennedy or Marshall ??? Each wants to make you look like Dumbererdale? DONE !!!!

  • Cyril Rogers
    January 27, 2012 - 10:21

    It was clear many months ago that Ms Dunderdale was in over her head and the sad thing is that she has no real stars in her Cabinet to take up the slack. This administration is in disarry and will lurch from one crisis to another during its mandate. How her approval rating is this high is beyond me!

    • Not really a surprise
      January 27, 2012 - 12:08

      You shouldn't be surprised by her high approval rating, it's a reflection of the less appealing alternatives sitting in opposition.

  • joan
    January 27, 2012 - 09:31

    Dunderdale even looks like she is hideing things

  • John
    January 27, 2012 - 07:06

    We sent troops to Africa to help build democracy, yet we let this government do everthing in secret. We can't even have the House open for they do not want us to know their doings. We should all beware of this.

  • What Else Could She Say
    January 27, 2012 - 07:06

    Governments at odds with the AG is nothing new - Brian Tobin wouldn't let the AG look at the House of Assembly books and MHA's abused their allowances, some to the point of going to jail. But, the Premier's reliance on her folksy and weak answers give this story legs. The Premier needs to up her game because the opposition leaders who are not very talented are making the Premier seem incapable of doing the job.