Ches Crosbie calls for investigation into premier's involvement in Carla Foote hiring

Ches Crosbie is asking Newfoundland and Labrador's citizens' representative to investigate Premier Dwight Ball's involvement in the hiring of Carla Foote at The Rooms.

The Progressive Conservative leader says if Ball is found for wrongdoing under the House of Assembly Code of Conduct, there should be consequences.

"This hasn't yet been investigated. If it is shown that he had a role, then he violated the Members' Code of Conduct and should be punished," Crosbie said in a news release Wednesday.

Ball has repeatedly denied having anything to do with Foote's hiring, and said his staff also did not have any involvement in the hiring process.

However, Crosbie cites a section of the Mitchelmore Report, written by the Office of the Citizens' Representative, where there is reference to the board at The Rooms being told that Ball offered Foote the job.

Although Ball repeatedly denied his involvement, Crosbie alleges Minister Christopher Mitchelmore was "evasive" when asked about whether he was directed by Ball's staff.

"It is hard for reasonable people to believe the premier is not involved in this," Crosbie said.

"The public interest requires the many unanswered questions in this scandal be thoroughly investigated by an officer of the legislature to get to the bottom of matters such as these."

For days, members in the House of Assembly debated what the consequences should be for Tourism Minister Christopher Mitchelmore. In the end, MHAs decided he should be forced to apologize, with a suspension for two weeks without pay.

No other mentions of Ball in report

The only time Ball was brought up in the report was when members of The Rooms board of directors said they left CEO Dean Brinton's office while he took a phone call. When they returned, they said Brinton told them Ball had offered Foote the job.

They said they felt there was nothing they could do about it, because it was ordered by the premier.

Meg Roberts/CBC

Brinton did not bring it up in his interview with the citizens' rep. Neither did Mitchelmore.

But Crosbie says it seems they were never asked.

"The report into Mitchelmore was focused on Mitchelmore," he said. 

"So while there was suggestive evidence about a wider involvement … it was not the task of the CR in that report to follow up on those leads. He properly kept himself focused on his task at hand, which was the whistleblower's allegations against Mitchelmore himself."

While the Office of the Citizens' Representative is normally used for investigating whistleblower allegations, Crosbie said it also has a provision for members to launch complaints.

"I'm using that legislation in exactly the way it was designed," he said.

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