Liberals make political appointments

James McLeod
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No mention of promise for independent non-partisan commission

Three months after coming to power, the new Liberal government is making political appointments, with no movement yet on a promise to take the politics out of government appointments.

During the provincial election, Premier Dwight Ball made an independent appointments commission one of his signature campaign promises.

He doubled-down on that commitment to take the politics out of government appointments to agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) in a mandate letter he wrote to himself just after the election.

“This non-partisan commission will take the politics out of government appointments to ABCs and will screen candidates, apply a gender lens and recommend the most qualified people for appointments, adding a much-needed layer of independent review to the process,” Ball told Ball in his Dec. 14 mandate letter.

But three months after the Liberals won the election, there’s been no public movement on the promise, and the government has been making appointments in the meantime.

The cabinet quietly reappointed Iris Petten to a three-year term as Memorial University’s board of regents. When Petten was initially appointed in 2013, then-minister Joan Shea issued a public announcement.

No news release has yet been issued this time around, but Advanced Education and Skills spokesman John Tompkins said they’ll get to it eventually.

“The intent has always been to announce Iris Petten’s reappointment with a news release. We expect to issue soon,” Tompkins said in an email.

Petten was appointed three weeks ago, on Feb 8.

The government appointed John O’Brien as superintendent of real estate agents and salespersons, and registrar of mortgage brokers, on Feb. 1, just three days before he suspended the licence for Exit Realty on the Rock.

The government did not announce O’Brien’s appointment, except to post the official cabinet order online two weeks after the appointment was made.

The cabinet also sacked Milly Brown as associate secretary to cabinet for communications, and Carla Foote was hired in her place.

Foote previously served as director of communications for the Liberal caucus when they were in Official Opposition. She is the daughter of federal Liberal cabinet minister Judy Foote.

Justice Deborah Fry was named as a substitute member of the judicial complaints panel, and a handful of senior managers were shuffled around by the new Liberal government in the core civil service.

It’s unclear whether any or all of these positions would fall under the proposed independent appointments commission; the Liberal party platform never specifically said which positions would still be appointed by cabinet, and which ones would be tackled by the independent commission.

Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis took exception to the Foote appointment in particular. He pointed out that the independent appointments commission is the first policy promise in the Liberals’ platform, under a heading, “Take politics out of government appointments.”

“Obviously, the Carla Foote appointment is political. There was no public competition,” Davis said. “The headline is, ‘taking politics out of government appointments.’ Appointing Carla Foote is absolutely not that.”

Davis also pointed out that despite the Liberals’ promises of openness and transparency, there’s been very little public disclosure about the appointments made so far.

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy also had questions about the appointments commission process; who appoints the supposedly independent non-partisan commissioners?

He said part of the confusion in all of this is that the government hasn’t given specifics on what it’s going to do next.

“The election is over now,” McCurdy said. “They won. They’re going to have to start delivering on some of their promises.”

Erin Curran, a spokeswoman for Ball, issued a brief emailed statement to The Telegram.

“Any appointments made over the course of the last few months were urgent in nature and therefore preceded the establishment of the Independent Appointments Commission,” Curran said.

“The purpose of the Independent Appointments Commission will be to ensure the best, most qualified individuals are put into these roles. This remains a priority for the Ball administration, and you will see the work begin in short order.”

Organizations: Independent Appointments Commission

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Recent comments

  • Sylvia J. Wilson
    July 06, 2016 - 22:36

    They're so BLATANTLY OBVIOUS with their corruption and lies because they know they can get away with it. Who's going to stop them? No one.

  • steve
    March 03, 2016 - 13:36

    Here is an OPEN QUESTION to Mr.Ball. Will you impose a carbon tax or agree with a carbon tax on NL residents that is being suggested by the Feds. Also known as a carbon scam to bail out 13 years of fiscal mismanagement by the Ontario Liberals that has left Ontario near Bankruptcy.

  • Muggins
    March 02, 2016 - 08:54

    The NL political minions reminds me of the TV program Vikings, where all the "unclean" lick the hand of the oracle.

  • Duh
    March 01, 2016 - 13:08

    Of course Dwight Ball is completely disingenuous.

  • Bob
    March 01, 2016 - 12:44

    Premier Ball has made largely unintelligible statements about NL's frightening fiscal situation since the election. "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" captures the leadership essence of this man.

  • Spencer
    March 01, 2016 - 12:21

    @john smith The worst government ever elected? That distinction goes to your gang Smitty which won't be giving up its dunce hat any time soon. The government that brought us KGB secrecy, that squandered the greatest windfall in history and left us with massive debts, that launched the biggest white elephant ever - one that may well bankrupt us, that appointed every sleaze bag politician and political donor to positions of public trust, that killed the fishery and turned its back on rural newfoundland, and that left us with the highest unemployment rate in Canada. Yea, we can see why you'd be real proud of that record Smitty.

    • John Smith
      March 01, 2016 - 13:36

      ...KGB secrecy? LOL Was anything secretive revealed after the new ATTIPPA laws were introduced? No. Squandered what exactly? Which school, which LTC facility, which highway, which clinic? Tell me where the money was squandered? Left massive debts? When Danny Williams took over from the last Liberal government we were 12.5 billion in debt, which is equal to about 17 billion in today's we have around a 10 billion dollar debt...MF is a visionary, intelligent answer to our present and future energy needs, and is desperately needed ASAP. No one has appointed more sleazebags than the Liberals have...they perfected it...The PCs killed the fishery too? LOL I won't even bother to dignify that asinine comment....and of course the good ol' turned their back on rural schools, new highways, new clinics, new LTC facilities etc....but my comment wasn't about what the PCs is about how utterly inept the Liberals are...and what they are doing....and what they are ...nothing....Spency...

  • steve
    March 01, 2016 - 12:18

    99 percent of politicians make the other 1 percent look bad.Not a typo. Entitled to their entitlements I guess. Men with no shame in a place with no rules.

    • roy206
      March 01, 2016 - 13:33

      .Profound...short and to the point..well written....we need to hear more from you

  • david
    March 01, 2016 - 11:29

    When Danny was in charge, handing out jobs was the province's main employment growth scheme. Now that we're broke -- and I mean teetering on bankrupt broke --- we're back to the time-honoured shtick of paying partisan cronies with a dollop of pork while telling everyone else what dire straits the province is in. So we've now seen it all: under a complete spectrum of economic circumstances here, burning taxpayer money is the primary activity of government. So how could our fate be any different?

    • james
      March 01, 2016 - 15:24

      So much for Rhodes Scholars

  • Jimx
    March 01, 2016 - 10:25

    What about Paul Davis appointing former RNC buddies to cushy government jobs who are enjoying retirement. All receiving Provincial pensions. The latest appointment before departing was appointing a former RNC Sargent as his head of security.

    • Denise
      March 01, 2016 - 12:55

      Every single appointment Paul Davis made was done in a press release. Does Ball think by not announcing it people won't find out? So much for Transparency he boasted during the election....

    • Dolf
      March 01, 2016 - 15:31

      Denise, so because Davis' appointments were made by press release it means those idiotic appointments that cost us taxpayers dearly are justified and ok? Go back to bed.

  • Ted
    March 01, 2016 - 10:21

    Political translation of Open...Deceitful,Deceptive,Dishonest,Shifty Political translation of Transparent....Dense,Foggy,Muddy,Shady. If we put a politician tax on that we would be out of debt in short order.

  • Too Funny
    March 01, 2016 - 10:14

    Oh the humanity. Turns out this government is like every other government before it. Was anyone foolish enough to believe differently.

  • Half Term Premier or a One Term Government
    March 01, 2016 - 10:03

    They didn't need to say much to get elected given the poor PC record. That is coming back to haunt everybody now. They just are not up to it. Discontent is growing while the Premier dashes off to Vancouver to beg with Justin Trudeau tomorrow. That's not leadership.

  • maddy
    March 01, 2016 - 09:39

    Thought we were broke !!!!!!

  • Anna
    March 01, 2016 - 09:10

    I had hoped this Liberal Government would be better than the PC Government but unfortunately politicians are all alike they lie to our faces. In the meantime, Mr. Davis, can you remember Judy Manning and John Ottenheimer? I wouldn't be shocked at this if I were you.

  • Don
    March 01, 2016 - 08:49

    Paul Davis is the last person who should be commenting on Premier Ball.How many of your friends did you appoint to plum positions Mr.Davis?I could elaborate if you wish.

  • Chad
    March 01, 2016 - 07:58

    Talk about arrogance. This new government is holding back documents from the public through cabinet secrecy and now is making political appointments after promising us they wouldn't. I can't imagine how much more arrogant they'll be in a couple of years.

  • John Smith
    March 01, 2016 - 06:49

    ....this is only one in a long line of broken election promises....but no one should be surprised. What does surprise me is how the Liberals appear to be totally overwhelmed, they have no plan, floundering, bumbling, stumbling form one inept decision to another. Dwight Ball is a weak individual, who is ill equipped to deal with the crisis that we are in....and this is not a fake losing power for two days...this is a real crisis, that will leave a scar on this province for years to come....these Liberals will be proven to be the worst government ever elected in this province.....and that is saying something...

    • Spaz
      March 01, 2016 - 11:10

      Nothing could be worse than the Williams government.

  • Don Lester
    March 01, 2016 - 06:16

    More broken promises from Dwight Ball. So far he's batting a thousand.

  • Political Watcher
    March 01, 2016 - 06:08

    Didn't Williams appoint all his cable buddies to NL Hydro? We see where that got us! Then Const. Davis appointed his cop buddy to the most senior staff person in Gov't, while he was collecting a pension no less. He appointed his largest financial contributors girl friend to an un-elected Ministerial post. Go away Paul, no one listens to you and your opinion don't matter.

  • Randy
    March 01, 2016 - 04:17

    Is Earle McCurdy still leader of the NDP? Where's he been hiding out since the election?

  • Spaz
    February 29, 2016 - 20:55

    One was a rehire and the other two were key staff positions. Foote was previously their comm director anyway. What's the big deal? Non story here.

    • Denise
      March 01, 2016 - 13:01

      Story is he sacked Milly Brown, a very capable competent communications lady, and hired someone in her place, and Judy Foote's daughter @ that. That's the issue!

  • Denise
    February 29, 2016 - 20:16

    Are you going to hold any of your promises.... Or keep lying to the people... You hope by not announcing them people won't find out...

  • Doug
    February 29, 2016 - 18:01

    While we're on the subject of appointments, how did Ball's spokeswoman quoted in this article get her position? She was "hired" in January, 2016 yet there was no public job competition for the position through the Public Service Commission.