A defeated Liberal MLA who was accused of having been handed a patronage job promoting Anne of Green Gables is no longer being paid by Island taxpayers.
That’s because Cynthia King, who was called Cynthia Dunsford when she was a sitting MLA, did not get her one-year, $60,000 contract renewed.
The Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) facilitated King’s provincially funded position with Forever Anne, which is now called the Anne Partnership.
TIAPEI executive director Don Cudmore said Monday the decision not to renew King as executive director of the Anne Partnership was made by the committee that runs the organization.
“I was prepared to go to the province and see if there was any more funding available, but the committee decided that (King) completed everything they wanted her to do,” Cudmore said in an interview.
“Once those things were done, they felt they were ready to take it on as a committee themselves and that at this time they didn’t need a staffer.”
He added he believed there was ‘opportunity for funding’ to renew King’s contract, but it had not yet been officially approved.
But The Guardian has learned the $60,000 salary was indeed re-offered to the committee in November for another year, initially with no strings attached.
Members of the Anne Partnership committee were pleased, especially given the controversy that erupted last year after news that King had been given the job. Many saw it as a patronage appointment, as it had previously been a volunteer position, but last year received funding from the province through TIAPEI.
It was also never advertised.
The Opposition Tories called it a ‘soft landing’ for King, who lost her seat in the 2011 election to James Aylward.
This year, the Anne Partnership committee wanted to post the position and go through an open selection process, to clear the air and move forward free of controversy, sources have told The Guardian.
But after concerns were raised that King would not be kept on, a senior official within the Ghiz administration informed the committee it had to keep King or lose the funding, according to two independent sources involved with the organization.
The committee said no to these terms and chose instead to refuse the funding.
An official with the premier’s office did not comment directly on these details, but would only say they were “informed the position was not being continued.”
Cudmore stressed the committee was very complimentary of King’s work, but that it simply did not need this position for another year.
“You don’t want to take money just for taking money,” he said.
“Government dollars are hard to come by these days and they knew they’d be coming back a little further down the road and requesting funding for some of their project development initiatives. So they didn’t want to use them up with anything else.”
The Guardian attempted to contact the committee chair for Anne Partnership and King for comment on this story, but did not receive a response.