N.L. premier orders review of executive job transfers as minister faces scrutiny

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball at the swearing-in of his cabinet of the minority Liberal government, at Government House in St. John’s on Thursday, May 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier says he has ordered a review of transfers of executive-level staff as one of his cabinet ministers faces criticism over the appointment of a former Liberal staffer to a lucrative public service job.

A report released Monday found Christopher Mitchelmore “grossly mismanaged” his code of conduct obligations when he directed Carla Foote’s hiring to a marketing job at Crown corporation The Rooms, a gallery and archive in St. John’s.

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The Office of the Citizens’ Representative, a provincial ombudsman service, says Mitchelmore mismanaged public funds by dictating Carla Foote’s hiring and directing the job’s salary increase to $132,000.

Dwight Ball defended Mitchelmore Tuesday, saying Foote’s hiring was a move between executive positions, but the report concludes the positions were not equivalent and the job was reclassified to an executive level to accommodate Foote’s hiring.

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The report says Foote’s hiring was not in accordance with the Public Service Commission Act and recommended corrective action against Mitchelmore.

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Witnesses told investigators they felt compelled to accept Foote’s appointment because Mitchelmore directed it and because they were informed the premier had already offered Foote the position, a claim Ball denies.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2019.

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