New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant pulls funding for forum for union contracts

The Premier of New Brunswick says he has pulled his funding for the province’s foundation that negotiates union contracts because he didn’t like the fact his appointees were running the meetings.

Premier Brian Gallant made the announcement in a press release Monday, days after his Liberal government announced it would review the Investment Protection and Public Interest office. The office had offered advice on ways to deal with public sector strikes and issues such as the controversial gambling legislation.

The Premier says he will not review the four advisers.

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“It was my understanding the primary function of the Liberal administration’s relationship with the Fund was to act as an advisor, representative, or representative of a government department in a trade and/or labour dispute resolution process,” the statement said.

“This is to ensure that the hardworking members of the New Brunswick and Francophone communities are represented by advocates who will be impartial and careful advocates for the best interests of the parties involved.”

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He says when the advisers were appointed the Premier received assurances that they would not be involved in resolving issues involving the public sector.

“There has been no application for services since the Ministers were first appointed in 2014 and it is now clear that, by their own admission, these four individuals do not meet the definition of unbiased arbitrators.”

He says the office now spends nearly half its time supporting government-appointed board nominees in the funding and procurement process.

“It is now clear that these individuals are more focused on preserving private business interests over representing the best interests of taxpayers,” the statement said.

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“We must ensure the best interests of taxpayers are at the centre of any dispute resolution processes, and this office needs a totally revamped approach to engagement.”

The premier says the government will delay funding the foundation while they conduct a full review of the office.

The new investment protection act passed with confidence at the end of 2016. As part of that legislation, every province appoints the chief investment officer to the investment protection office, allowing the adviser to negotiate investment contracts for those governments.

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