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Cabinet issued waiver for Gordon McIntosh's contract
Advance 2030 adviser Gordon McIntosh is receiving a $3,000 stipend to pay for his housing while he is in St. John’s.
As The Telegram first reported in March 2019, McIntosh’s Scotland-based firm Aberdeen International Associates was hired by Nalcor Energy on a $336,000 annual contract.
McIntosh served from 2016 to 2018 as deputy minister in the Department of Natural Resources, where he made $175,000 a year. When his term as deputy minister expired, the government hired his firm on a sole-source contract to work on establishing the new “OilCo” offshoot of Nalcor.
“They were keen to retain my services,” McIntosh told The Telegram in March 2019.
An access to information request has revealed further details of the arrangement between McIntosh and Nalcor, ordered by the provincial government. In the 2019 budget request for OilCo, Nalcor board of directors chair Brendan Paddick says the government directed Nalcor to hire McIntosh’s firm.
“The budget incorporates Government’s direction to OilCo management to include the $350,000 to cover the costs of the Advance 2030 Policy Adviser government has retained,” reads the letter.
The total cost billed by McIntosh from February to October of 2019 is $77,963.42. The costs include $32,864 for flights, largely to and from St. John’s and Aberdeen, Scotland, where McIntosh resides with his family.
In addition, the government has been paying McIntosh a $3,000 monthly house rental stipend. The stipend is included as part of the $336,000 contract.
In a statement, a Nalcor spokesperson says McIntosh is entitled to the stipend to cover costs related to his duties as Advance 2030 adviser.
“The allowance was based upon the expectation of extended stays and takes into consideration alternative forms of accommodations and standard daily per diems,” reads the statement.
“The choice of accommodation, whether it be hotel or rental property, rests with Mr. McIntosh. His proof of payment is then submitted for reimbursement.”
"...we don’t have any money for emergency shelters, right? Let’s put that in context. But we have $3,000 to put up to give to a man who’s earning $350,000.” — NDP Leader Alison Coffin
On the website Kijiji, 1,287 results appear when searching for home rental in the St. John’s metro area. Just four of those results exceed $3,000 a month.
“Wow,” New Democratic Party Leader Alison Coffin said when told of the monthly stipend.
“I think that is a huge amount of money. I’m pretty sure you can rent a three-bedroom bungalow for $1,200, so, wow.”
Coffin says it’s hard to believe the stipend is necessary.
“And we don’t have any money for emergency shelters, right? Let’s put that in context. But we have $3,000 to put up to give to a man who’s earning $350,000.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says hiring McIntosh without any competition on a government directive sounds similar to Carla Foote's hiring at The Rooms, which rocked the House of Assembly during the last sitting.
“It’s like ‘gross mismanagement’ all over again. In other words, taxpayer money being squandered. The last clear example we had was the Mitchelmore-Carla Foote situation,” said Crosbie.
“Now, we have something similar repeating. It’s like a pattern here. There are bound to be other examples coming to light as time goes on.”
A request for comment from Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady was directed to “OilCo.” A statement was not received by deadline on Tuesday.
On Jan. 31, 2019, cabinet issued a conflict of interest waiver to allow McIntosh to go directly from his deputy minister role to his role with “OilCo.”
Independent MHA Paul Lane says current legislation does not allow a non-elected person to enter into a contract with a government department that they were employed by in the previous year. Hence, the conflict of interest waiver was issued by cabinet.
Lane says there are no rules restricting how and when cabinet can issue such waivers, which has to change.
“I think that if there’s going to be some kind of a waiver, it has to be disclosed. There has to be public disclosure. I also believe it has to be justified through documentation, through argument as to why that waiver is being put in place,” said Lane.
“It should go through a body, such as the Office of the Citizens' Representative, who is an independent officer of the House of Assembly, to make application for such a waiver.”