Bennett says she knew Nalcor had conflict-of-interest rules

James McLeod
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Conflict of interest at Nalcor came up in the legislature Tuesday, after The Telegram reported that just months after stepping down as chairwoman of the Nalcor board, Liberal MHA Cathy Bennett became a partner in a company that did millions of dollars’ worth of work with the Crown energy company.

Liberal MHA Cathy Bennett

The Liberals didn’t bring it up, and the Tories — who appointed Bennett to the Nalcor board — didn’t mention it either until New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael got her turn to speak in question period.

“There has been discussion in the media regarding whether or not Nalcor has appropriate conflict-of-interest rules in place to regulate actions of its board of directors,” Michael said.

“I ask the premier:  can he tell us if Nalcor has rules governing conflict-of-interest, and when were they brought in?”

Premier Tom Marshall said that it’s up to the Nalcor board to decide what sorts of conflict of interest rules it needs.

“I would expect that the board of directors, if they felt that there was anything lacking in course of conduct or in business practices or in governance, that they would, given the resources that they have, given their access to the best legal advice in the country, I would expect the board of directors to undertake that work to ensure that the board is reaching the highest standards of governance,” he said.

Bennett started negotiating to buy shares in a company that does business with Nalcor while she was still on the energy corporation’s board of directors.

She said she recused herself from all meetings where the other company — Sunny Corner Enterprises — came up. Four months after resigning her position at Nalcor, she became a partner in Sunny Corner.

When Bennett spoke to The Telegram last week, she said that when she was chair at Nalcor, there were no conflict-of-interest rules.

It turns out that isn’t true. After the story was published, current Nalcor chairman Ken Marshall contacted The Telegram and sent over copies of the Nalcor conflict-of-interest policy and code of conduct, which were adopted in 2008 when Bennett was on the Nalcor board.

After question period, Bennett spoke to The Telegram and explained that what she meant was that the company needed to improve what it had.

“I mean, it was 2008 and the code of conduct and the conflict-of-interest pieces that we approved as a board needed to be reviewed and updated on an annual basis,” she said.

“The best way to protect the employees and the best way to protect the taxpayers’ money is to have the company operating in a way that it has systems and processes that are best in class, and you can only do that by constantly re-evaluating and changing.”

Specifically, Bennett said she believes that Nalcor as a company should have a mandatory disclosure policy for people in senior positions, so they have to present their potential conflicts up front.

She said that way they can be scrutinized and audited.

Bennett said she spoke to the premier’s office back in 2012 when Kathy Dunderdale was in charge about this, around the same time she was resigning from the board. She said there was no appetite for tougher rules then.

The premier has said that he would like to see stronger policies in place, and Bennett said she’s happy to hear that.

“For me, when I went into the premier’s office having resigned as chair of Nalcor and you know, laid my concerns out around governance and enhancing and improving issues relating to conflict,” she said.

“I’m glad today that premier Marshall recognizes that it needs to be a priority. Nalcor is responsible for billions and billions of dollars.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Nalcor board

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Recent comments

  • Anthony Rockel
    July 16, 2016 - 17:10

    “The best way to protect the employees and the best way to protect the taxpayers’ money is to have the company operating in a way that it has systems and processes that are best in class, and you can only do that by constantly re-evaluating and changing.” This is pure bullshit. The ground rules for avoiding conflict of interest are unambiguous enough to get it right first time. Being totally incompetent is no excuse, either. DwightCo and BennetCorp. would have no trouble paying for $1000 per hour "consultants" whenever they had the slightest doubt about how to hang a toilet roll.

  • Torey Nomore
    May 21, 2014 - 13:15

    McCathy is well-trained in twisted Tory tactics true and true. Reason number 195,344 that I cannot vote Tory no-more; and McBennett, never! Once a Danny-plant, always a Danny-plant.

    • Fred
      May 21, 2014 - 14:29

      Cathy sits as a Liberal.

    • Happily Retired
      May 21, 2014 - 15:52

      Fred, Well said. I guess when Dwight Ball came out in support of Muskrat Falls," Tory Nomore" had another illogical reason not to vote Tory.

    • Happily Retired
      May 21, 2014 - 15:53

      Fred, Well said. I guess when Dwight Ball came out in support of Muskrat Falls," Tory Nomore" had another illogical reason not to vote Tory.

    • Torey Nomore
      May 22, 2014 - 07:33

      to Fred; yes, I'm well aware that McCathy sits as a Liberal but was trained as a Tory and planted as such; a Red Tory.

  • Cyril Rogers
    May 21, 2014 - 10:48

    My concern with politicians like Ms Bennett is that they have this "air of entitlement" to all of the resources of the kingdom and this little rock in the ocean is considered by many of them to be their personal fiefdom. They use their contacts and wealth networks to gain enormous wealth, piled upon wealth, because they are in the know……. when it comes to economic activities that most people are unaware of, or privy to. I have no problem with people building wealth but it appears that many of them use their "insider" contacts to feather their own nests….then want to gain full control of the political scene to ensure their newly-minted financial empires are protected. Ms Bennet was, from my perspective , a PC insider to begin with and her financial support for, and ties to, the Tories, lends credibility to my concerns. We will likely have a change on the political scene within the next year…..but will we actually change anything? I fear not!

  • Fred
    May 21, 2014 - 10:45

    Madame Bennett is one slippery fish.

  • J
    May 21, 2014 - 09:02

    I guess her having some Ethics would have been to much to ask.

  • Sterling
    May 21, 2014 - 08:15

    Not sure what she is thinking, guess in her business you can push people under the bus with little or no pushback. In politics there is a line up waiting to push so you better get your story straight from the get go. Mrs Bennett has a serious credibility problem already and it doesn't bode well, do we want this person representing us? I think not, step down please, your self serving interests don't represent us as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians

  • Arthur J.
    May 21, 2014 - 06:09

    I like the second paragraph of your story James. Says a lot. There is a conspiracy of silence on this one. Liberals aren't going to ask any tough questions of course regarding NALCOR's failure to deal with directors who are dealing with the corporation. Not when it's one of their own. The Tories would love to go after Bennett but that would mean going after NALCOR too. They figure NALCOR is already battered and bruised so they ain't going there. So its down to the newly re-acclaimed leader of the softball party. Too bad. She wouldn't know how to expose questionable behaviour if it fell on her head. Compare her with Tom Mulcair's performance cross-examining the government over the senate scandal. Maybe he would agree to take Lorraine in as an intern.

  • James
    May 21, 2014 - 05:57

    Gotta hand it to this lady. Says she didn't break any conflict rules with her ties to a company that did business with NALCOR because they were no rules. When it turns out there were rules after all, she says 'yea, O.K. but those rules weren't tough enough to stop someone like me'.

    • So True
      May 21, 2014 - 11:40

      You hit the nail on the head with that comment!! Absolutely right, she will try to find a way around anything! TFW's perhaps??

  • Laughable
    May 21, 2014 - 05:04

    Liberals are doing great, Keep up the good work Dwight, What next the ( Hole in the wall Gang), just asking...LOL