Job offer to Arsenault probed
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.