Pol­i­tics at work

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial -

It’s not hard to tell when the provin­cial gov­ern­ment has its com­mu­ni­ca­tions ducks all in a row. From the busi­ness min­is­ter to the premier him­self, ev­ery­one was fol­low­ing their notes to a T. Ten times dur­ing Mon­day’s ques­tion pe­riod in the House of As­sem­bly, ei­ther Busi­ness Min­is­ter Christo­pher Mitchelmore or Premier Dwight Ball re­ferred to the hir­ing of Carla Foote as an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at The Rooms as “a lat­eral move.”

Not as the hir­ing of a for­mer mem­ber of the premier’s staff in a $132,000-a-year po­si­tion that wasn’t even ad­ver­tised and was filled with the only can­di­date the gov­ern­ment ever con­sid­ered.

Not as a trans­par­ently po­lit­i­cal ap­point­ment made di­rectly by a cab­i­net min­is­ter.

No, it was an in­nocu­ous-sound­ing “lat­eral move” — “noth­ing to see here, just busi­ness as usual.”

Just like mov­ing lawn chairs around be­fore the gar­den party.

Foote has held se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions po­si­tions with the provin­cial Lib­er­als and was the top com­mu­ni­ca­tions per­son with the provin­cial civil ser­vice.

And, while The Rooms has a board of direc­tors and op­er­ates quasi-in­de­pen­dently, the de­ci­sion to fill the spot was made by Mitchelmore.

“I made the de­ter­mi­na­tion that Carla Foote was deemed the most qual­i­fied per­son to fill the role,” Mitchelmore said out­side the House of As­sem­bly

It is, of course, not hard to de­ter­mine some­one is the most qual­i­fied when that per­son is the one and only per­son you are con­sid­er­ing — and if no one has even been in­formed there’s an open­ing.

Foote ob­vi­ously has skills and ex­pe­ri­ence for the po­si­tion. But if your ar­gu­ment is that you are ap­point­ing the best and only can­di­date, you could use that ex­act same logic to hire your cousin Jeb who hasn’t got­ten off the couch for a day’s work in the last 27 years.

It’s also in­ter­est­ing that the leg­is­la­tion that gov­erns The Rooms ac­tu­ally says this about the cor­po­ra­tion’s em­ploy­ees: “The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer is re­spon­si­ble for the hu­man re­sources, gen­eral di­rec­tion, su­per­vi­sion and con­trol of the fi­nances and other busi­ness of the cor­po­ra­tion and of the di­vi­sions of the cor­po­ra­tion.”

There is no men­tion in The Rooms Act of any cab­i­net min­is­ter hav­ing the abil­ity to reach in and hire any­one. In fact, when it comes to gov­er­nance, the cor­po­ra­tion de­scribes it­self as “a provin­cial Crown cor­po­ra­tion gov­erned by a board of direc­tors, who are ap­pointed by the Gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador.”

It’s hard to imag­ine a provin­cial cab­i­net min­is­ter reach­ing out and mak­ing a $132,000 ap­point­ment at a Crown cor­po­ra­tion like New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro, for ex­am­ple.

In all, es­pe­cially af­ter the Lib­er­als cam­paigned on clean­ing up crony­ism in gov­ern­ment, it should not be too much to ask that high-pay­ing pub­lic ser­vice jobs have open, trans­par­ent job com­pe­ti­tions that clearly look for the best qual­i­fied per­son for the job, not merely the gov­ern­ment’s own pick.

But don’t worry. It’s just a “lat­eral move.”

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