According to the province’s conflict of interest law, no cabinet minister or senior civil servant is allowed to enter into a contract with — or receive a benefit from — government for a period of one year after leaving office.
The provision is supposed to create a buffer zone between the time politicians or senior civil servants leave office and when they can get back on the taxpayer-funded gravy train.
The only problem is there’s a big “if” in this legislation. “If” cabinet decides to override the act, it can. In other words, with the blessing of Premier Greg Selinger and his cabinet, government or any Crown organization can enter into contracts with whomever they please whenever they want.
And they just did. Cabinet is allowing the Public Utilities Board to enter into a contract with former PUB chairman Graham Lane who just “retired” March 31.
They passed the order-in-council May 9. Lane was considered to be a senior civil servant under the act. But he’s getting a pass.
You see, under Sec. 19.1(1) of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Conflict of Interest Act, it says that “except with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council (that’s a fancy word for cabinet), no minister or senior public servant shall, for a period of one year following the date on which the minister or senior public servant leaves office, enter into a contract with, or accept a benefit from, the government or a Crown agency.”
And since the Lieutenant Governor in Council has approved this deal, Lane gets to enter into a contract as a consultant with the PUB, even though he just retired less than two months ago.
So he gets to collect his pension and draw more money from taxpayers through the PUB as a consultant.
We don’t know how much he’ll be paid because the order-in-council simply gives the PUB the authority to enter into a contract with him and to set the “terms and conditions of the consulting services to be provided.”
All we know is he’ll be working for the new board chairman.
Isn’t it nice when the law says cabinet can just wave a magic wand whenever it wants, bypass the province’s conflict of interest rules and enter into contracts with whomever they please whenever it suits them?
Kind of makes the act not worth the paper it’s written on.