Former MLA's 'soft landing' scrutinized in legislature

Teresa Wright
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Cynthia King

A former MLA’s job with an organization dedicated to promoting Anne of Green Gables came under fire during question period in the legislature today.

Opposition MLA Steven Myers said defeated Liberal MLA Cynthia King, received a 'soft landing' in being awarded a job with Forever Anne after losing her seat in the 2011 provincial election.

He asked Tourism Minister Robert Henderson how he was able to find $60,000 for this position at a time when dozens of provincial liquor store employees were laid off due to budget cuts.

“From where in your department did you find $60,000 to give (King) her soft landing?” Myers asked.

“TIAPEI (Tourism Industry Association) didn’t post the job, it wasn’t advertised and her resume just happened to land on their desk when they were looking for somebody.”

Henderson pointed out Anne of Green Gables is a major tourism draw for the province and Forever Anne works to grow this brand.

“It’s important that we can have somebody that can promote and grow that name and brand on Prince Edward Island and that individual does a tremendous job of doing that.”

King was hired as the executive director of the Forever Anne committee, which operates under the umbrella of TIAPEI. The provincial government provides funding for the executive director position.

Myers pointed out this was formerly a volunteer position, but since King was hired it now receives a generous salary.

Myers asked why Henderson chose to fire 21 liquor store employees while also finding new funding for a former colleague.

“When you cut money and you say you’re saving money by getting rid of people and then you give money to one of your friends, there’s a correlation. Everybody else in this room sees it,” Myers said.

Henderson defended the position, saying it is important in the marketing of Anne of Green Gables to tourists and tourism markets.

Liquor stores are run by the Liquor Control Commission, which is a Crown agency that operates independently of the department. As a result, the liquor store layoffs are unrelated to decisions made by Tourism P.E.I. for funding initiatives such as Forever Anne, Henderson said.

Myers then asked Henderson to confirm whether the $60,000 grant for her position was not renewed.

Henderson said he could not confirm this.

“We are going through our budgetary process and we haven’t at this time made a decision on how we’re going to be spending the money on grants that organizations apply for,” Henderson said.

He did add, however, he sees the promotion of Anne of Green Gables as a ‘very important product to promote.’

“I, as minister, will do everything I can to promote Prince Edward Island.”

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Recent comments

  • Its Time
    November 16, 2012 - 14:42

    There's lots of time to beat our gums. But it won't mean nothing until we go to the ballot box. Nova Scotia has done it. No reason we can't have an NDP govt. here if we decide to mark the ballot.

  • Who's left?
    November 16, 2012 - 11:14

    I guess Islanders have to add Henderson to the growing list of toxic politicians. Let's see, that list now includes Robert Ghiz, Robert Vessey, Doug Currie, Wes Sheridan, Valerie Docherty, Janice Sherry, Allen Roach, Charles McGeoghegan, Alan McIsaac, Buck Watts, , Robert Mitchell, Richard Brown, Kathleen Casey, Bush Dumville, Ron MacKinley, Carolyn Bertram, George Webster, Gerard Greenan, Paula Biggar, Sonny Gallant, and Pat Murphy. Gheeze, I'm running out of MLA's . . . you gotta wonder who's left?

  • Time for a change
    November 16, 2012 - 07:50

    Take back the island has it right. And in a sense so does Redman. Both the PCs and the Grits have been up to their ears in the patronage trough. Probably always will be. Of course it is outrageous that the ex MLA for my district, Cynthia Dunsford, has got this frivolous and cushy job while pink slips are being handed out to much needed employees. A similar sweetheart deal was made with our ex Innovation Minister, also rejected by his constituents. The old line parties have failed us miserably. It's time to give the NDP a chance.

  • Liberal Success Looks Like This
    November 16, 2012 - 07:22

    For years I have voted, and actively encouraged others to vote. I taught my children to vote; they couldn't have looked me in the eye if they didn't. However, after having voted for this government I now wonder if it's really that important to vote, especially if you don't know who or what you're really voting for. I thought King was a woman of integrity who consistently exercised liberal values. Now look what's been revealed. From that bloody Plan B to PNP to HST to lousy investments to these acts of blatant patronage. All of this has taken the wind from my sails and any enthusiasm I had for social activism from my soul. Then again, if that's the goal of this government, if that enables their decisions, they've certainly succeeded. But now, what do we tell our children?

  • SG
    November 15, 2012 - 21:07

    Come next Election vote for a Party that will enact Recall Legislation. That's how B.C. got rid of HST

  • paul
    November 15, 2012 - 19:31

    THIS IS OLD NEWS , it will only stop when they leave office . I hope in 3 years that enough people see the light . By that time the population will be less as people will not be able to afford to live here . All because of the worst government in the history of this province . They have lined the pockets of their own with OUR MONEY and now we are starting to pay for it . Yes that 3 letter bad word aka HST will become our worst nightmare . It may already be too late to recover from a crazy debt that will have more than doubled since they took office.

  • redman
    November 15, 2012 - 19:23

    Where did Pat Binns land,,uh Jamie Ballem um Jim Lee. do you suppose this present Gov't invented this, give your heads a shake

    November 15, 2012 - 18:35

    What a slogan for the NDP in the next provincial election! Islanders have been subjected to such crap over the past 20 years that Change is definitely in the air. Some people are either BORN liberal or BORN conservative and this mentality of death do you part will never change. People with half a brain will get around this political garbage and go with TRUE Change. This change is coming with Mike Redmond! I for one have had it with both parties that make up our political scene here on this Island. If you have been STUPID in the past, you can learn from your mistakes. "I Have"! How do we take back the ISLAND? Question one or two MLA'S at a time. Put the PRESSURE ON THEM! Question them for answers! Don't settle for less! Don't let them sell our Island out! BE A TRUE ISLANDER! SAVE OUR ISLAND FOR OUR KIDS & GRANDKIDS! WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY! SIGN UP WITH THE NDP PARTY AND BE A CARD MEMBER. DONATE SOME TIME IN THE NEXT ELECTION! MAKE A DONATION TO THE PARTY TO HELP THEM GET ELECTED WITH SOME GOOD ORDINARY ISLANDERS THAT CARE FOR THE ISLAND. I FOR ONE WILL DO ALL OF THIS, AND I FULLY SUPPORT RECALL LEGISLATION.

    • Bert Steeves
      November 15, 2012 - 21:10

      If you are so adasmant about things and want people to stand up and be counted, you should start by using your name instead of hiding behind a pseudenum.

  • Down East Grit
    November 15, 2012 - 18:30

    I used to really like Robbie Henderson. Now I can't stand to look at him.

  • King of the dung heap
    November 15, 2012 - 18:26

    The fact that defeated Liberal MLA Cynthia King even accepted the job is also significant. There isn't a Liberal party anymore, the cynicism runs so deep it has consumed its entire value system. I voted for King, to my shame, and this scam and so many other decisions by this government literally makes me nauseous just to look at any of the silent sheep we call Liberal MLA's. This Plan B thing started it off, but issue after issue keeps it going. I think I'm glad the road in Bonshaw will be built so Islanders remember this loathsome era in Island politics.

  • Wondering
    November 15, 2012 - 18:02

    So - can former MLAs go on pogey when they lose their jobs for poor performance? Rest of us can't - if you're fired you're out of luck...

  • Our Money Lost
    November 15, 2012 - 17:56

    Duncan McIntosh has done more to promote Anne than Cynthia Dunsford ever will. Campbell Webster has done more to promote Anne than Cynthia Dunsford ever will. Why create a paid position for a volunteer organization that is not needed? What did "Forever Anne" accomplish this year? Cynthia Dunsford lost the election for a reason.

  • James Macgoo Lakeside
    November 15, 2012 - 17:35

    Missing the pont! Take a look at the big picture! Why would any objective person consider doing business on PEI when patronage, graft - PNP, and focus by politicians on keeping themselves in power and population fighting over actions of government,want to do business here. Instead of writing to Gurardian and complaining, use your energies to work on removing people who fail to meet your trust. In the long run it's cheaper to fight to remove than put up with nonsense. No matter who is in power same old song. Pity on all of us for not demanding better. We deserve better.

  • Hate to say it.....
    November 15, 2012 - 17:24

    I hate to agree with Myers....but he's right-at a time when Ghiz fired hundreds he finds 60k for a "cushy" job for her...pathetic...The Liberals are more arrogant than ever.

  • Wendy Woodstock
    November 15, 2012 - 16:42

    Hey Robert, is Willie Nelson and Nellie Wilson coming this year? I can hardly wait,eh!

  • Attacking Women
    November 15, 2012 - 16:28

    Why oh why are we always attacking women? Allan Campbell was thrown out as well and makes at least double with a base of $125,000 plus probably every other bonus imaginable. Why are we attacking Cynthia? Yes she did nothing while in there and actually flaunted this but she had no support from the Party. They actually encouraged Liberals to vote her out in the last election. Her former president ridiculed her behind her back at the debate in Stratford. Why always the female candidates?

  • Joe Blow
    November 15, 2012 - 16:20

    PATRONAGE APPOINTMENT!!!! This Ghiz government makes me puke! How do you fire people who make a fraction of the money King is making and then hand her a cushy job that she didn't apply for?? King must be another one of Ghiz's big business people that he wants to keep Allan Campbell. He lost his seat because people don't like him, but yet Ghiz created a cushy job for him to keep him close. I want a $60,000/yr job created for me where I don't have to do anything. Come on Ghiz.....hand it over!! Oh thats right....I'm not a Liberal supporter so you can't hand me a job!! Crooked politics!!

    • Ad Hoc
      November 15, 2012 - 17:40

      @ Joe Blow; she's no big business's much worse than that. She's a former Liberal MLA who got the boot in the last election.

  • madam speaker
    November 15, 2012 - 16:12

    The point is not whether or not the job was needed. It was how she came to be given it without proper procedure. Opposition needs to demand an answer to that and the speaker should be making members ANSWER the questions. The whole question period is a complete farce. They should all be fired with no pension. They've done nothing to earn one.

  • JBO
    November 15, 2012 - 16:10

    To the People Below: The only difference between the Liberals and Conservatives is their party color, and that's it. If you want a more accountable gov't, then maybe it's time to buck the trend? :)

    • Adam
      November 15, 2012 - 19:05

      I agree 100%!! I was telling someone today that neither candidate from the two big parties bother coming to my door next election. It is time for change, but only if we can get the young vote out. The are too many people in Gov't Jobs that do not want to lose them and too many waiting for one if the tide changes. I just hope Montague / Kilmuir can put a legitimate candidate in place for the NDP .

    • Within My Means
      November 16, 2012 - 06:12

      JBO be careful what you wish for. I lived in Ontario for twenty-nine years. People were fed up with the red and blue for the same reasons and voted in the NDP. Bob Rae put that province ina lot of debt.

  • don
    November 15, 2012 - 15:52

    i agree she got a soft landing. but i also ask ghizzy to PROVE that it was not a PATRONAGE JOB.

    • Ed Gallant
      November 15, 2012 - 16:32

      Robbie Robbie Robbie, please stop trying to spin this. We both know why she got the job. .You are trying to make her look like the second coming of J Walter Thompson. You must know that in the end it's you who will lose.

  • harperites
    November 15, 2012 - 15:52

    A nne of Green Gables sell its self, the prouct does need need defeated Liberal MLA playing sales woman , The waste , where does it end. After the Ghiz regime is done with our gentle Island our grand kids kids will be still paying for there wastes and the pay outs to there friends and families.Lucky PEI is not a Middle East country ghiz would be ran out of office.

    • to harperites
      November 15, 2012 - 16:17

      Ghiz & co should be run out of office anyway - when a government loses the support and trust of the people it's supposed to serve, it should go - that's democracy.

  • dm
    November 15, 2012 - 15:26

    sick, shes not worth 60k a year that's for sure

  • Sylvia
    November 15, 2012 - 15:20

    Round and round we go and where we land, nobody knows. Wonderful how much in denial this government is.