Former NB Liquor head defends actions in bonus debacle: ‘I can’t read’

Former NB Liquor head defends actions in bonus debacle: ‘I can’t read’

Fredericton — The ex-president of NB Liquor is defending his decision to authorize nearly $600,000 in extra bonuses paid to employees last year after disclosing the provincially run corporation had been using the wrong fiscal year-end.

In a statement issued Thursday, Brian Harriman said he couldn’t possibly be to blame for the expensive and easily avoidable folly because the NB Liquor Board of Directors didn’t properly vet him.

“It’s kind of embarrassing, but I can’t read,” admitted Harriman. “Most days when I went into work I just crossed my fingers and hoped that they’d only give me charts to look at so I could just point at stuff and nod. Seemed to work. Anything else I’d just say, ‘Where do I sign?’

“Signatures are easy because it’s just scribbling shit on a line — no one asks any questions.”

Nearly 20 per cent of New Brunswick adults have below-average literacy levels on the national scale. New Brunswick students are the only ones lagging behind the rest of Canada — with the exception of Manitoba, obviously.

“We have too many people unable to participate fully in society because of their low literacy skills,” said Linda Homer, executive director of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick. “And the ones who insist on participating can do some real damage when in positions of power.”

The New Brunswick Department of Finance released information late last week about the hefty bonuses paid to NB Liquor employees in 2018 after management lost track of when its fiscal year ended that year.

“Without the Board’s knowledge, the CEO mandated that bonuses be calculated and paid out based on the erroneous 53-week target,” concluded the review. Harriman maintains he thought he was signing off on a pizza party for Susan in payroll.

Harriman resigned in February to take a position as chief operating officer of Calgary-based cannabis producer Sundial Growers, so it is unclear what consequences if any may come for the former-president of the Crown corporation.

“What are they going to do, fire me?” asked Harriman. “I’m pretty sure going after someone who can’t read is discrimination.”

A spokesperson for the NB Liquor Board of Directors said in a statement: “Never assume a New Brunswicker can read, because when you assume, you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me.’”

  1. This is the 21st century sorry I can not condone a person in a position of a Crown Corperation of the Provience of New Brunswick as one of the Liquior Control Board use the excuse they could not read … how did they secure this position and who approved their hiring?
    Whether there is a high rate of elitertacy or not to say there are 53 weeks on a year is hard to fathom. Their is also the claiming ignorance that tax payers are the ones having to pay for this mistake. Now being hired for another position for another would raise more questions iether they lied or forged information on their application which would be cause for dismissal which if they would know verbally as a CEO would know terms of termination .
    This also proved that those in position of hiring did not do their due dilegent and then tried to find their erroneous error by not admitting their role in having person in that position not qualified. I woukd think that some type of degrees post secondary education and experience be a huge part of qualifications.
    I be very concerned now that anyone not having any of those qualifaction claim discrimination seeing that someone was allowed to hold position that could not read did not know that there are 52 weeks in a year not 53 basic common knowledge

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