July 25, 2016 7:06 pm
Updated: July 28, 2016 11:37 am

McNeil government defends hiring process for senior bureaucrat

The province is defending its actions after Marilla Stephenson was asked to weigh in on the drafting of a a new job description for a position she ultimately won.

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The provincial government is calling a hiring process that saw the winning candidate being asked to weigh in on the position before it was posted “routine.”

Documents obtained by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union show that former newspaper columnist Marilla Stephenson was consulted on the wording of a job description for a position that she ultimately won.

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The emails released through access to information also show one bureaucrat referring to the position as Stephenson’s before the job was posted. Usually a job posting starts the competition for a position to be filled.

READ MORE: How many journalists does it take to run Nova Scotia’s government?

Stephenson left the Chronicle Herald in October 2014 for a contract position with the One Nova Scotia Commission. She then started the newly created position in the Executive Council Office in June 2016.

Both opposition parties are crying foul over the revelations. In an emailed statement Tory leader Jamie Baillie said the emails show the government “flaunting the rules.”

However the government is defending its actions. “The hiring process followed proper procedures,” Service Nova Scotia spokesperson Elizabeth MacDonald said in an emailed statement.

“This was a routine staffing process.”

Hiring shows double standard: Opposition parties

New Democrat leader Gary Burrill said Stephenson should have declared a conflict of interest and removed herself from the discussion because she was also applying for the job.

The failure to do so speaks to the standards and expectations set by Premier Stephen McNeil, Burrill said Monday.

“It raises questions about the overall integrity of the premier’s operation, I think it’s a big concern.”

Both parties are also criticizing Stephenson’s pay which went from $83,000 for one year with the One Nova Scotia Commission to $106,000 in her new position.

“It’s hypocritical for the Premier to be giving out new jobs and raises to those in his inner circle, while telling everyone else to cut back,” Tory leader Jamie Baillie said.

Stephenson’s new title is managing director of corporate and external relations. It is a permanent position.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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