Former New Brunswick premier accepts new advisor job with Ryerson University

New Brunswick Liberal Leader Brian Gallant answers questions from the media in Fredericton on Nov. 2, 2018. Former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant has a new job with Toronto's Ryerson University.Gallant announced on Facebook that he has accepted the role of special advisor to the to the president of the university on innovation, cybersecurity, and law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/James West

Former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant has been hired by Toronto’s Ryerson University.

Gallant announced on Facebook Wednesday he will become a special advisor to Ryerson’s president while remaining an MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe. He will advise the president on innovation, cybersecurity, and law.

“I’m very excited to have been offered an opportunity to help our country foster an innovative, prosperous, and fairer economy through a reputable institution like Ryerson University,” Gallant wrote.

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“Helping the university build a law school and (looking) at how to improve access to justice throughout Canada are projects that I also look forward to contributing to moving forward,” he wrote.

Gallant practised law in Dieppe before entering politics.

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He lost power last fall after the Liberals failed to form a minority government in the weeks following the tight Sept. 24 provincial election. Gallant announced a few months ago he wouldn’t run in the next election, but he would remain an MLA until then.

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Interim Integrity Commissioner, Charles Murray, said Thursday he reviewed Gallant’s contract with the university and approved it, after some changes in the wording.

Backbench and opposition MLAs are allowed to hold other jobs but they cannot be lobbyists or employees within the provincial government.

“Historically, being an MLA wasn’t even considered to be the only job that you would have,” Murray said in an interview. “It’s not that long ago we had members with full professions outside of the legislative assembly. The restrictions in the law are really only for cabinet ministers.”

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Murray, however, said he believes the legislation needs to be updated once a new integrity commissioner is chosen.

“Our understanding of what a conflict would be and what lobbying would be is changing, and our law is showing its age,” he said. “The modern understanding doesn’t really fit with the old law we have.”

In 2017, Gallant accused former Liberal cabinet minister, Donald Arseneault, of being in a conflict of interest for accepting a job with Canada’s Building Trades Unions.

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Gallant told the longtime MLA to quit the union job or leave the Liberal Party.

Arseneault said at the time he had been cleared to accept the position by the province’s conflict of interest commissioner. But Gallant had said his colleague fell short of caucus standards on avoiding the perception of a conflict. Arseneault resigned from the legislature.

Members of the Progressive Conservative government declined to comment on Gallant’s new job.

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