Job of­fer to Arse­nault probed

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY TERESA WRIGHT

De­tails of how and when out­go­ing P.E.I. Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Gilles Arse­nault was of­fered a gov­ern­ment job were probed Tues­day in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture.

On Tues­day, Arse­nault an­nounced he has ac­cepted a job with the depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion. Tues­day was also his last day as pres­i­dent of the teach­ers’ union and also the same day he urged P.E.I. teach­ers not to at­tend a protest against gov­ern­ment teach­ing cuts sched­uled for Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Steven My­ers ques­tioned the tim­ing of when Arse­nault was of­fered the gov­ern­ment job.

“There’s a very cu­ri­ous tim­ing around all this. Ques­tion to the min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion - when did you of­fer this po­si­tion to the suc­cess­ful can­di­date?” My­ers asked.

But it was Fi­nance Min­is­ter Allen Roach who an­swered.

He would only say the job was of­fi­cially of­fered to Arse­nault be­fore the May 4 elec­tion.

“There’s a reg­u­lar process that takes place on these when it was ad­ver­tised pub­licly, and the in­ter­views would have taken place very shortly af­ter the first of April, at the very first sop­por­tu­nity,” Roach said.

But the op­tics of Arse­nault tak­ing this job was not sit­ting well with many Is­lan­ders on Tues­day.

“(Arse­nault) says there’s no con­flict of in­ter­est, but in my mind there’s a big con­flict of in­ter­est and in a lot of peo­ple’s minds,” said Gary Con­nelly.

“It was also a con­flict of in­ter­est when he ran as a Lib­eral in the elec­tion. Both times he should have stepped down as a pres­i­dent be­cause you can­not be rep­re­sent­ing 1,500 mem­bers on one side and try­ing ne­go­ti­ate and also rep­re­sent your em­ployer,” Con­nelly said, ref­er­enc­ing the fact Arse­nault ran for the fed­eral Lib­eral nom­i­na­tion in Eg­mont last win­ter.

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