Report clears O’Brien — UPDATED

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Kevin Higgins
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Michael satisfied with commissioner’s work MHA didn’t violate Code of Conduct

Gander MHA Kevin O’Brien did not violate the code of conduct for Members of the House of Assembly, according to a report last Friday from the Commissioner of Legislative Standards.

NO VIOLATION – Gander MHA Kevin O’Brien was found not to be in violation of the House of Assembly's code of conduct for members following an investigation by Commissioner for Legislative Standards Victor Powers.
Submitted photo

 

O’Brien came under investigation following a community-sponsored breakfast in Gander last August. Following that event, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi MHA and NDP leader Lorraine Michael, in a letter dated Sept. 17,  requested Commissioner Victor Powers to provide an opinion to the alleed conduct of O’Brien.

In her letter to the Commisioner, Michael referenced news reports describing O’Brien as pushing the members of the Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce to withdraw invitations given to St. John’s East NDP MHA George Murphy and former Gander district NDP candidate Lukas Norman to serve at a breakfast fundraiser hosted by the Chamber.

In her letter, Michael said “that concern lies in alleged threats made by MHA O’Brien to withhold government funding or interfere with projects for a school in Gander and other projects if his wishes were not upheld.”

In his nine-page report, released last week, Powers outlined his investigation, including various sources he interviewed as part of the investigative process.

“It is in my opinion that the evidence fails to establish that MHA O’Brien has violated the code of conduct for members and therefore I make no recommendation as to any sanction against the member,” Powers said.

On Monday, Michael spoke with The Beacon from Ottawa, and said she requested they check into the matter because of the public nature of what was going on and the fact it was a news item in the media.

“With the allegations that were being made publicly I believe I had a real responsibility to ask for an investigation by the commissioner because it involved one of my MHAs and a former candidate,” she said. “It was public, and the commissioner needs someone to ask for something to be investigated, so for that reason I felt obligated to do that.”

Michael said she felt Commissioner Rogers did a thorough investigation.

“It’s clear to me the commissioner went through everything very, very carefully and couldn’t find the evidence to back up what was being said publicly, and that’s what he has to go by,” she said. “He did a thorough investigation, and I think the report is important because it’s a fair warning to all of us MHAs and ministers that we need to be careful and to make sure we are not crossing the line when it comes to our involvement with community groups, so I’m glad we have the report.

“It’s part of the due process…we do have the code of ethics, and the commissioner is the one who is charged with maintaining adherence to the code.”

Michael said that at no point was this request a political headhunt.

“We weren’t out to get blood or anything like that, but I believe that serious enough allegations were made publicly that there needed to be an investigation,” she said.

When contacted Monday, O’Brien said he had no public comment on the matter.

                                   khiggins@ganderbeacon.ca     

Twitter: @beaconnl

Organizations: Area Chamber of Commerce, Gander district NDP

Geographic location: Gander

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