March 26, 2019 7:30 pm

N.B. opposition parties call for separating attorney general, justice minister roles

WATCH: With the federal government mired in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, opposition parties in New Brunswick are suggesting the province consider separating the roles of attorney general and minister of justice.

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The leader of New Brunswick’s Green Party is questioning whether the province should consider separating the roles of attorney general and minister of justice amid the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal.

David Coon made the suggestion during the oral question period of the legislative assembly Tuesday.

“Mr. Speaker, I want to know if the premier will commit to separating the roles of attorney general and justice minister to ensure the attorney general’s mandate is not compromised in any way,” asked Coon.

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Attorney General and Justice Minister Andrea Anderson-Mason responded to the question, which was orginally directed at the province’s premier.

“I can say that in any point in time had a struggle between balancing being minister of justice and the attorney general,” the former lawyer explained, further suggesting that she can differentiate between the two roles.

The question was prompted by the federal debacle that’s dominated the news cycle for weeks with suggestions of political interference involving high-ranking members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and administration.

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When the Progressive Conservatives took office in New Brunswick, the roles were streamlined into just one position. The previous Liberal government had split the two roles, however Premier Blaine Higgs suggested that move was simply to create another cabinet position.

“That situation in Ottawa has a whole uniqueness all by itself and so we just can’t make those changes because of what we’ve seen, for what we will say is bad behaviour, so I’m not concerned that we will have that situation,” explained Higgs when questioned by reporters.

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But that’s not how the Green Party sees it. Coon says the government needs to take a hard look at separating the two roles.

“Marrying these two things can, as we’ve seen in Ottawa, create the conditions for efforts of political influence that are unwarranted,” said Coon.

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