Fredericton — Two former senior officials in the previous Alward Conservative government received a slap on the wrist last week. The punishment was meted out for removing Times & Transcript editor Murray Guy’s name from a list of privileged invitees to a good, old-fashioned weekend of manly musk, drinking, winks and nudges at the exclusive, government-owned Larry’s Gulch Fishing Lodge on the Restigouche River.
This anticlimactic ruling was handed down by the province’s first — and only — access to information and privacy Commissioner Anne Bertrand, who was awarded the position during the death knell of the Graham Liberals. In a press release, Bertrand stated: “This case was very unusual, and was the first example of such negligence to come across my desk in my time as privacy commissioner. Trying to prove blatant bias in provincial politics, forget about it. It’s like trying to find a needle in the proverbial haystack.
“Since patronage was eradicated during the premiership of Louis J. Robichaud, I found the Larry’s Gulch case to be a blip on the radar, so to speak. Let’s not make a big deal out of this. The public doesn’t need to be privy to every little wheel and deal involving their money, nor do they care. Boys will be boys. It was only a few thousand dollars, and they’re very sorry for what they did. They’ve cleaned up and promise to pay Mom and Dad Public back at their earliest convenience.” Bertrand signed off her communiqué, with these words of wisdom: “Everyone makes mistakes, that’s why they put erasers on pencils; pobody’s nerfect.”
The Manatee reached out to Bertrand for further comment. Asked whether she believes her ruling puts an end to weekends of wining and dining manufacturing and media moguls at the swank government hangout, Bertrand replied, “I don’t see the necessity of such an extreme measure. They’ve promised it will never happen again. Governments need somewhere to woo special-interest groups and like-minded business interests; a conscience-free atmosphere where the elite can sell off our precious natural resources in a relaxed environment. If not at Larry’s Gulch, where? A stale conference room at the Legislature?”
Upon hearing of their scot-free state, senior bureaucrats in question Bradly Russell and Bernard Roy got out from under the bus.
“This doesn’t sound like it will necessarily impede my future as an influence-peddler,” said Russell, “but it has taught me a valuable lesson about sealing things up airtight on the front side.”
“Parties have been getting away with this sort of thing for generations at one Larry’s Gulch or another,” added Roy. “Imagine our embarrassment at being the first ones caught.”