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P.E.I. Opposition leader says government official not abiding by province’s ethics rules

Premier Wade MacLauchlan, left, and Opposition Leader James Aylward talk before question period in the P.E.I. legislature on Nov. 20, 2018.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan, left, and Opposition Leader James Aylward talk before question period in the P.E.I. legislature on Nov. 20, 2018. - Mitch MacDonald

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The identity of a senior government official who previously refused several requests to file required disclosure statements remains a mystery.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan confirmed during Tuesday’s question period that the senior official had filed the statements.

However, MacLauchlan refused to name the official in question when pressed several times by Opposition Leader James Aylward.

“I don’t believe it is the proper course for me to disclose the name of the individual, but I’m happy to confirm to the house that the filing has been completed,” said MacLauchlan, who provided no explanation for the official’s initial refusal to file the disclosure statements.

Disclosure statements, which are required annually from executive division employees, include an individual’s assets as well as possible interests in private companies or additional income streams that could present a conflict of interest.

In her last report, P.E.I.’s ethics commissioner flagged one executive division employee who had repeatedly refused to file the confidential disclosure statements.

“In one case, an employee has never filed confidential disclosure statements despite several requests. The clerk and the premier have been informed of this circumstance,” the report stated.

When Aylward first asked MacLauchlan to name the official during Tuesday’s debate, the premier responded by stating that government established the office of the ethics and integrity commissioner in 2015 in order to create a “trusted resource” for conflict of interest issues.

MacLauchlan then quoted the commissioner’s own statement that, at the three-year mark, “it is fair to say this goal is being achieved.”

It was a statement Aylward took issue with.

“It’s pretty hard to believe the goal has been achieved if the premier’s own senior officials aren’t abiding by the rules set out,” said Aylward. “That’s shameful. Why are the rules set up after years of scandal to try and clean up this tired regime repeatedly ignored and broken by senior officials and cabinet ministers?”

MacLauchlan said Aylward had no grounds to make the comment, which he described as a “false accusation” and “most regrettable”.

Mitch.MacDonald@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

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