© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Tina Mundy is sworn in as minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, signs her oath of office Wednesday as Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis looks on.
Mundy failed to disclose creditor difficulties that include owing property taxes to government
Summerside MLA Tina Mundy, who was sworn in as P.E.I.'s education minister just one day ago, resigned from cabinet Thursday after government became aware of some personal financial troubles that includes debt she owes to the province.
Mundy announced her resignation in a statement issued just before 5 p.m. Thursday, "due to a personal financial matter that includes making a consumer proposal to creditors."
A consumer proposal is an alternative to declaring personal bankruptcy. It helps protect an individual from debt collectors during repayment.
In her statement, Mundy says she has struggled for the last few years as a single mother.
“I have struggled with ongoing financial matters. I have taken the appropriate steps to work through these matters and fully address them.”
Premier Wade MacLauchlan told reporters he learned of this situation Thursday morning after government became aware Wednesday evening that Mundy had creditor issues and that the province is one of those creditors – for property taxes.
MacLauchlan called her in for discussions and, and upon reflection, Mundy offered her resignation and the premier accepted it, he said.
“This would make her in, what I would call, a compromised position in terms of sitting around the cabinet table,” MacLauchlan said.
“You wouldn’t really be at the cabinet table when you’re in, as I say, creditor difficulties for obvious reasons in terms of decisions that we need to make at cabinet.”
Mundy was sworn into cabinet just one day prior to her resignation in a ceremony at Government House.
In her statement, Mundy says her consumer proposal process began prior to the election, but MacLauchlan says he was not made aware of this until Thursday morning.
If he had known, she would never have been appointed to cabinet, he said.
“If we had discussed this earlier this week, and I regret to say this, I wouldn’t have proceeded with asking her to join cabinet at this point in time.”
When asked whether a vetting process was performed to uncover these kinds of issues, MacLauchlan explained these kinds of details are expected to be disclosed.
It is something that would have eventually been revealed when Mundy met with the conflict of interest commissioner.
“It’s something that I’m reflecting on of course in terms of what more might be required,” MacLauchlan added.
Mundy will continue on as a member of the Liberal caucus and MLA for Summerside-St. Eleanors.
Hal Perry, MLA for Tignish-Palmer Road, will now become the minister of education, early learning and culture. Paula Biggar, minister of transportation, infrastructure and energy, will take on the additional portfolio of status of women as the sole female cabinet minister left in the P.E.I. legislature after Mundy's resignation.
MacLauchlan stressed his intention has not been to censure Mundy for this situation, but rather he has approached it with regret and empathy.
“If I had known earlier in the week I would not have, frankly, had her in this now regrettable situation.”
As for why someone with financial difficulties cannot sit at the cabinet table, MacLauchlan explained he believes it is different to try to work through personal financial troubles as an MLA than as a cabinet minister “with the sort of confidences and decisions that one is called upon to make as a member of executive council.”
“Anyone who is in a compromised situation with creditors would, of course, disclose that, and in my judgment would be better not to sit in cabinet,” he said.
“When you’re in creditor difficulties you have to really take that into consideration when you’re dealing with the kinds of things that we’re dealing with in cabinet on a regular basis.