Top Burke contributor appointed CNA chairman

Politics

Rob Antle rantle@thetelegram.com
Published on January 24, 2009

Education Minister Joan Burke has appointed a top contributor to her 2003 and 2007 election campaigns as chairman of the College of the North Atlantic board of governors.

Burke announced this week that Terry Styles will take over the position.

According to a government news release, Styles is owner and operator of Appalachia Distributing Ltd. in Stephenville.

Burke represents a Stephenville district.

Education Minister Joan Burke has appointed a top contributor to her 2003 and 2007 election campaigns as chairman of the College of the North Atlantic board of governors.

Burke announced this week that Terry Styles will take over the position.

According to a government news release, Styles is owner and operator of Appalachia Distributing Ltd. in Stephenville.

Burke represents a Stephenville district.

Appalachia Distributing Ltd. - a brewery distributor on the west coast - contributed to Burke's past two election campaigns.

In 2003, according to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador records, Appalachia Distributing gave Burke's campaign $1,192.50. Appalachia was the campaign's third-highest contributor.

In 2007, Appalachia gave Burke's re-election campaign $1,000. The company was tied for second-highest campaign contribution for her that year.

Officials said Burke was in meetings Friday, and unavailable for an interview before deadline.

But the minister issued a prepared statement saying it would be unfair to exclude Styles from consideration for the CNA position because he had donated to her campaign.

"Mr. Styles' ability to chair the board of governors stands on its own merit," Burke's statement noted.

"He has been selected for this position based on his contribution to the province in both a volunteer and business capacity. He is a well-known and well-respected member of the business community who will bring the skills gained from this experience to the board. It would be unfortunate to overlook an individual based on previous campaign support."

Education Department officials said the chairman's position is voluntary, and there is no compensation.

Travel costs, accommodations and meals are covered.

Burke has come under fire in recent months for her handling of the presidential search at Memorial University.

She personally interviewed two candidates shortlisted for the job, rejecting them both. Traditionally, cabinet only gave formal approval to the search committee's chosen candidate.

And in recent weeks, Burke has dumped several members of Memorial's board of regents before the expiry of their terms, citing the need for "renewal."

rantle@thetelegram.com