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BRIAN JONES: ‘Mitchelmore Report’ unmasks nepotism in Newfoundland

Premier Dwight Ball speaks with reporters about his Halloween meeting with Quebec Premier Francois Legault.
Premier Dwight Ball. — Telegram file photo

Everyone who voted Liberal in last May’s provincial election should read the “Mitchelmore Report,” by Commissioner for Legislative Standards Bruce Chaulk.

You can find it online here.

It is quite hefty, even electronically, at 184 pages. It is longer than some classic novels, and is more disgusting than porn.

PC Leader Ches Crosbie and NDP Leader Alison Coffin say Christopher Mitchelmore should resign from cabinet or be removed.

Depending on your tolerance level for gall, you could suggest the same for Premier Dwight Ball, if some of the allegations quoted in the report prove true.

Specifically: did Ball offer a job at The Rooms to Carla Foote, as alleged by the former Rooms CEO and members of The Rooms board of directors’ executive committee?

In a statement Monday, Ball said he “did not direct anyone to hire Ms. Foote for a job at The Rooms.”

Syntax is so important. (It is not to be confused with “sin tax,” a method by which governments raise revenue from citizens’ weaknesses and foibles.)

According to Chaulk’s report, former Rooms CEO Dean Brinton says Mitchelmore and his deputy minister told him that Ball “had offered Carla Foote the position” at The Rooms.

OK, Mr. Premier, you “did not direct anyone” to hire Foote.

But did you offer her the job?

Those are two very different scenarios.

People high up in Rooms management claim Ball offered the job to Foote. Brinton says Mitchelmore told him so.

It appears nepotism and patronage lurk in some high offices in Newfoundland.

Did Premier Dwight Ball offer a job at The Rooms to Carla Foote, as alleged by the former Rooms CEO and members of The Rooms board of directors’ executive committee?

Some highlights from the “Mitchelmore Report” and the citizens’ representative report:

• “It is public knowledge that Ms. Carla Foote is the daughter of Judy Foote, the current lieutenant-governor and a former federal Liberal cabinet minister. As well, Ms. (Carla) Foote worked for the Liberal party while it was last in opposition.”

• “After the (Rooms) board meeting on Sept. 21, 2018, Dean Brinton received a call from Minister Mitchelmore and his deputy informing him that Carla Foote would be filling the position of executive director of marketing and development, and her salary would be comparable to that of her previous position, $132,000.”

• “(The) board of directors’ stated goal of using the merit principle for hiring for, among others, the director of marketing and development, was undermined by the intervention of Minister Mitchelmore to direct the (Rooms) CEO and the board to hire Ms. Foote.”

• “The executive committee felt that there was little they could do given that the premier had made the offer to Ms. Foote.”

• “When asked about any role the premier had in the hiring of Ms. Foote, (deputy minister Ted Lomond) stated that ministers do not telephone executive appointees at high levels and offer them jobs. Rather, it requires the concurrence of cabinet secretariat and their political masters to make those sorts of decisions.”

• “The position of director of marketing and development which existed at The Rooms prior to 2018 commanded a salary of approximately $80,000.”

• “There is ample evidence to suggest that The Rooms could have recruited highly competent candidates for the position of director of marketing and development with compensation allocated in the ($77,000-$108,000) salary range.”

• “The net effect is that The Rooms is overcompensation (sic) for the position of executive director of marketing and development in the range of $30-$40,000 per year.”

• “In early 2018, Mr. Brinton, with the aid of the Public Service Commission, commenced a job competition to fill the vacancy. Completion of an undergraduate degree in business or commerce was mandatory. Approximately 77 people applied for the position; interviews were conducted; and a short list of prospective candidates was developed. There were numerous candidates who held master’s degrees.”

• “Over the past 14 years no employee (of The Rooms) was given an indefinite contract without a Public Service Commission competition.”

• “(Brinton) was told (by Mitchelmore and his deputy minister) that he would be receiving a contract and a Request for Staffing Action Form which he was to sign. He told them he was opposed to doing so in fear of a backlash from the public and the arts community. He also stated he was not comfortable defending the hire of an individual without even seeing his or her resumé.”

Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at



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