Government makes major civil service changes —unannounced

James McLeod
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Jerome Kennedy


The week Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy released his provincial budget, the cabinet quietly made 12 appointments at the top of the civil service without any public notice.

Typically, senior appointments to the civil service happen in ones and twos. But March 25, the day before the budget, the cabinet made 10 appointments to the government’s top bureaucracy. On budget day, the cabinet made another appointment, and the day after, it made another appointment.

Normally, every time such an appointment is made, the government issues a news release that explains why the position was vacant, and gives biographical details about the person who filled the job.

Twenty senior appointment news re­leases were issued in 2012, and another three were issued earlier this year, but when it came time to make 12 changes to the senior civil service, the government was un­characteristically quiet.

Senior appointments have to be done by an order in council — the official cabinet orders, signed into law by the lieutenant-governor — which comes directly from the provincial cabinet.

Since February, The Telegram has been requesting copies of all orders in council, but, unlike government news releases, they are not widely distributed. The orders in council also only include the name of the appointee and the position they will fill. They provide no biographical information, and don’t say why the position was vacant.

Earlier this week, the government announc­ed it was going to start posting orders in council on the Internet.

“I think this was deliberate. This was not something that got lost in the shuffle,” Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said.

Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy told The Telegram that since media organizations have recently started requesting copies of all orders in council, the government decided it didn’t need to send out news releases.

“We knew at that point that the orders in council would be released, so at present, the way we will deal with these is releasing the orders in council,” he said.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said her big concern is that without a news release, there’s no way to tell why a position needed filling — if it was a retirement, or if someone was fired, or just took another job — and what exactly their qualifications are.

“We don’t know where they came from, and so, are they qualified to be where they are? Government thinks so, but I might not if I knew what their background is,” Michael said. “It makes it less transparent when you don’t know the background of the people involved.”

The cabinet appointed Paul Scott assistant deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs, Paul Morris as assistant deputy minister of energy policy with the Department of Natural Resources, Robert Gardiner as assistant deputy minister post-secondary skills development with the Department of Advanced Education and Skills, Michelle Jewer as acting-assistant deputy minister of corporate services with the Department of Health and Community Services, Denise Tubrett as assistant deputy minister of regional services with the Department of Health and Community Services, and Karen Stone as assistant deputy minister policy and planning with the Department of Health and Community Services.

Ed Walsh was appointed assistant deputy minister of primary, elementary and secondary education with the Department of Education. Rachelle Cochrane was made deputy minister of the women’s policy office. Shelly Smith was named executive director of corporate and information management services with the office of the chief information officer. John Phillips was named acting assistant deputy minister of policy and planning with the Labour Relations Agency.

Mike Samson is still the chief executive officer of Fire and Emergency Services, but he’s now also the CEO of the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: The Telegram, Department of Health and Community Services.Ed, Department of Natural Resources Department of Advanced Education and Skills Department of Education Labour Relations Agency Fire and Emergency Services

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Recent comments

  • david
    April 29, 2013 - 11:25

    What is any different about this government's attitudes and behaviors than any other (majority) one we've ever had before? Honest question. (And before anyone misinterprets my point, no I'm not defending this government....just pointing out the objective ---- and objectionable ---- truth.)

  • Gerry
    April 29, 2013 - 09:37

    SHAME on this government.

  • Mark
    April 29, 2013 - 09:32

    Obviously, this so-called Premier and her tag-along chicks are not playing with a full deck. No one in their right minds would want to be the laughing stock and jokes of all Canada. They are an absolute embarrassment to the people of NL. I can't even use the word "OUR" Premier any more. Do they really think the citizens of this Province are so gullible and stupid; they are actually insulting our intelligence. Too bad we can get rid of them now. Just imagine, they are working for US. It's not a very funny joke.

  • Leah
    April 29, 2013 - 09:09

    There have been a lot of comments in recent months, but no matter what the people of NL say, or how they feel, this Dummerdale Government and her puppets are going to do what they want, no matter what. Hope they can't sleep at night. Too bad the next election is so far off.

  • Robert Power
    April 29, 2013 - 08:35

    The provincial Tories really are turning into federal Tories. There is no longer a difference between their policies and agendas. They keep the public in the dark and do anything it takes to make sure they keep themselves and their cronies employed. Social issues and transparency of government are not a concern for them.

    • Jason
      April 29, 2013 - 14:50

      Maybe if people could take better care of themselves the government wouldn't have to worry about social issues.

  • Darren
    April 29, 2013 - 07:55

    What a bunch of bleeping bleeps. If ANY Newfoundland or Labradorian believes that they are not getting shafted by the PCs, speak up please? But hey, the current government doesn't care anymore (IMHO), they got their two terms for their pension and most may not even be running again so stick it to the people. Good luck getting voted in again. Reminds me of how my dearly departed grandfather used to refet to Joey's henchmen, I Guess Stunderdale got hers too.

  • Jennifer
    April 29, 2013 - 03:32

    It's just more evidence of the slimy antics of Kathy Dunderdale. Who else would have the face to appoint 12 positions pre-budget announcement, and on the other side of her mouth announce cuts, cuts, cuts? This government believes it is untouchable as evidenced by the arrogance shown here. That arrogance is unpalatable to many of us anxious to mark our X in the next election, at which time I hope people in the province will not forget the PC true colours, especially when the gifts start flying.

  • Ger
    April 28, 2013 - 20:06

    Another example of an arrogant gov. Major cutbacks, but they always find money for their buddies and they don't mind rubbing our face in it. My concern is that we will forget all about this is 2 years and put all these ?? back in. This is why we have opposition parties so that they remind us of all this Gov. has done to us. Can't wait for the next election to boot these people out. By the way, also can't wait for the P.C. candidate for St. John"s west to knock on my door. Hope I'm home!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Wilf Penney
    April 28, 2013 - 19:35

    At the same time our loyal public employees are having to pack up and move to the mainland because of PC Fiscal Failures, Jerome, Kathy, Steve Kent and the PC bunch are lining the upper civil service with their PC buddies.... I can't wait to watch the sorry bunch packing up their offices in 2015 - in fact - I might even go down to Confederation Building to watch Kent do his walk of shame with the cardboard bankers box. Folks, vote anything but conservative in 2015. We can't let these PC politicians run our dear province into the ground any further.

  • Court Security
    April 28, 2013 - 18:52

    What a Slap in the Face to my 21 Co-Workers who were Laid Off on that very day! New Houses and Cars purchased that week and left flat on their FACES! Well Done DunderDumb and JeronaMo! Thanks a Million!

  • Fred Sullivan
    April 28, 2013 - 17:34

    Well what can anyone say about this story? This story goes hand in hand with the story of a bunch of finance public servants celebrating on our dime the budget which included laying off 1500 fellow public servants. Confusion, incompetenance and some would even describe this government as corrupt.

  • steve
    April 28, 2013 - 17:07

    open government at its best.

  • Alex
    April 28, 2013 - 16:11

    a nudder nail in the reelection coffin Jerome.

  • Corporate Psycho
    April 28, 2013 - 15:25


  • Richard
    April 28, 2013 - 13:43

    More secrecy. We shouldn't require full time investigative reporters at the Telegram to find out what our government is doing with our money on our behalf with the power we delegate to them. Shameful.

  • Juanita
    April 28, 2013 - 10:53

    So, instead of becoming more transparent by posting the orders in council online, they've actually become even less transparent. For us to even know that there was an appointment of any kind, we now need to check that website every single day for ourselves, as they are not going to issue press releases for those appointments anymore. And we'll have to go looking to other sources to find out exactly why the position was vacant in the first place, and the biography of the person appointed, as this information will not be included in the postings on the internet site. How many citizens are engaged enough in their democracy to do such a thing? Very few. And that is exactly what the Dunderdale government is counting on.