PC MHA asks legislative standards commissioner to investigate premier's fishing trip

PC Opposition leader Barry Petten has written a letter to the commissioner for legislative standards in search of answers for what he's calling Premier Andrew Furey's 'conflicts of interest.' (Peter Cowan/CBC - image credit)
PC Opposition leader Barry Petten has written a letter to the commissioner for legislative standards in search of answers for what he's calling Premier Andrew Furey's 'conflicts of interest.' (Peter Cowan/CBC - image credit)
Peter Cowan/CBC
Peter Cowan/CBC

PC Opposition house leader Barry Petten has written a letter to the provincial commissioner of legislative standards, seeking answers from Premier Andrew Furey for what Petten is calling "his conflicts of interest."

Petten wants Furey to answer for his fishing trip to Rifflin' Hitch Lodge in Labrador with his father — Senate Speaker George Furey — in July 2021, which came to light in a report by online news organization allNewfoundlandLabrador in mid-October.

The lodge is owned by billionaire John Risley, a friend of Furey's and the chairman of World Energy GH2, a company looking to develop a wind-powered hydrogen-ammonia project on the Port au Port Peninsula.

"A lot of it is about the optics. The optics of the situation.… I think the court of public opinion has ruled. If you go out in the street and you talk to a lot people in the street — this is something I've talked to a lot of people about — most people see this as something not right," Petten said Friday.

"We've heard from political scientists saying the same thing. This don't pass the smell test."

Furey has reiterated that he paid for the trip himself.

"It's my time, my dime," Furey has said on multiple occasions.

The premier insists the wind project was never discussed during the trip because of "ethical walls" he set up but has also ignored demands to produce receipts from the trip.

Danny Arsenault/CBC
Danny Arsenault/CBC

Petten said Furey's repeated refusal of transparency is not good enough.

"You're premier of the province 365 days of the year, 24/7. That comes with the territory. At minimum that was a poor judgment call to decide to go out to a fishing lodge and [have] whatever discussion," Petten said.

"We're not getting any answers. All you're getting is these flippant remarks and, for the most part lately, it's deafening silence."

In a statement to CBC News on Friday, a spokesperson for the premier's office said Furey personally paid for the vacation.

"As the premier has stated on several occasions when asked about his personal vacation time, he is very grateful to have the opportunity to go fishing with his father — an activity the two have enjoyed for many years prior to the premier holding this position and one he plans to continue engaging in during and after his time in office," reads the statement.

"As the premier has stated many times, the topic of wind energy is not new and a number of jurisdictions have developed wind projects. Wind energy has long been discussed in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Petten said his letter to Commissioner for Legislative Standards Ann Chafe isn't a personal attack on Furey. He said he's just "doing his job."

"People of the province deserve better. This is public money. We're talking about trust," Petten said.

"If Ms. Chafe comes back and says everything was fine then we'll live with that.… I just want answers. I just want this investigated properly."

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