Allen Roach defends against charges he lied in legislature

Teresa Wright, The Guardian
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Minister of Finance Allen Roach checks his papers during a recent sitting of the P.E.I legislature in this Guardian file photo.

Says his office did inform auditor general of plans to amend act

Finance Minister Allen Roach is defending against an allegation he lied in the P.E.I. legislature, saying his office did inform the auditor general of changes they planned to make to ensure all future government loan write-offs are made public.

RELATED: Opposition alleges P.E.I. finance minister 'lied' in legislature

Roach says his department sent a letter to Auditor General Jane MacAdam on Nov. 10, 2015 informing her of plans to amend the Financial Administration Act.

That letter detailed the changes they planned to address her concerns about millions of dollars being written off every year by Crown corporations.

The letter included wording the department planned to use in its upcoming legislative changes.

Staff from Roach’s office later followed up with the auditor general’s office, Roach said.

“There was ongoing conversation during that time with my staff and her office just to make sure we covered off exactly what it was that she wanted,” Roach said in an interview Thursday with The Guardian.

Opposition MLA Steven Myers is accusing the finance minister of lying in the legislature last December when he said the province’s auditor general reviewed government’s contentious loan write-off bill and gave it a thumbs up.

Roach made five separate statements in the house on Dec. 2, 2015, indicating MacAdam had seen the legislation and was confident it would satisfy the concerns she raised about loan write-offs and cancellations, which she flagged in her 2015 report. 

But, MacAdam told the province’s public accounts committee Wednesday she did not see or review the legislation prior to it being introduced in the house last fall.

Roach admits the auditor general was not provided with the final bill, but says the letter sent to her in November did contain the wording they planned to use to make legislative changes.

“I spoke to the auditor general today and I know that she does not review legislation, that’s clearly not her role,” Roach said.

“In the letter that we sent to the auditor general in response to her recommendation, we outlined some of the changes that we were going to make in section 26 (1) of the Financial Administration Act and we were talking about the additions of words that would serve to clarify the application of this provision and ensure it was no longer subject to interpretation.”

Up until 2005, all debts written-off or cancelled by Crown corporations were fully disclosed in executive council orders, which are published and available to the public.

But MacAdam’s investigation in 2015 found provincial lending agencies stopped seeking treasury board or cabinet approval sometime in 2005.

Without these approvals, the write-offs and cancelled debts are not disclosed to the public and also not included in the auditor general's annual audit, thus not available to be viewed or scrutinized by the AG or by taxpayers.

The province introduced changes to the Financial Administration Act last fall, but a number of Opposition MLAs challenged the wording of the bill, notably a loophole allowing cabinet the ability to withhold loan write-off details at its discretion.

It was concern over this wording that prompted Roach to bring up the auditor general and indicate she was satisfied his loan write-off bill would fix the problems.

He says he stands by his statements.

“The opposition can stand up and say whatever they want, whenever they want. But I’ve clearly outlined exactly how the process took place and I stand behind the way that was done.”

Roach says he looks forward to bringing the bill back to the legislature in April.

He would not say whether any changes would be made to address the concerns raised last fall by the Opposition and Green party leader. 

Twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Financial Administration

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • SlyFox
    February 26, 2016 - 09:48

    Loans being written of since 2005 with out anyone knowing truly why they were written off or for how much because these write-offs were not made public for the taxpayers to see.Taxpayers should be screaming about this since they have to pay for it but either they are ill informed or feel powerless to do anything about it.

  • Matt
    February 26, 2016 - 07:05

    Allen ? or is this Wes in disguise ?

  • BUDDY
    February 26, 2016 - 06:55

    Makes You wonder what this Guy did when he was with the RCMP??

  • don
    February 26, 2016 - 06:54

    we all know that liberals never ever lie. what ever they say happens look back at ghiz and all the things he was going to do like increase the police forces, stop patronage, etc and you can see they are all saints. and they are ordering a big front end loader from the oil fields out west to pick up all he crap..

  • James
    February 25, 2016 - 23:15

    I would believe any of these people mentioned over Roach. His memory loss as an X RCMP office has sickened alot of honest people. Now once exposed he is trying to sugar coat it. Should be fired.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    February 25, 2016 - 22:37

    so according to this statement it's the auditor general that is not being truthful or so it is being made to appear ..lol Does anyone know the truth or are they all just flapping their gums and spouting BS . The auditor general has no reason to make up such a story and nothing to cover up or gloss over . Not hard to clear this up just produce a copy of the transcript sent to the auditor general . Never mind all this I said ,she said and he said Horse Feathers . Sounds like a bunch of school children arguing over why they don't have their homework done ..lol So this is the best and brightest we get for the huge salaries plus bonuses and golden pensions , hardly seems worth it .

  • heads up
    February 25, 2016 - 21:35

    Remember kids! If you're on fire, pour gasoline on yourself!