A member of the Legislative Assembly was kind enough to share the Bell Aliant Contract documents which former Premier Robert Ghiz allegedly negotiated in secret on behalf of PEI residents. There are three documents: (1) The original Strategic Patnership Agreement signed on March 30, 2007; (2) an Addendum signed in 2010; and (3) an Addendum signed in 2013.
Premier MacLaughlan certainly missed a golden opportunity to prove to Islanders that his oft-repeated promise to be transparent and forthcoming with all the important business of government is sincere when he stubbornly refused to release these Bell Aliant documents and disclose the true cost of the agreement to Islanders. It should not have taken an order from the Commissioner for Access to Information and Privacy for Islanders to learn the truth that the deal is actually costing us nearly three times the amount government previously disclosed (8.2 million) despite pathetic rural internet service.
There may still be time for the Premier to show some good faith – he could repair a lot of damage by fully disclosing the details of the E-gaming fiasco. But that’s not likely to happen, given his close ties to Robert Ghiz and other Liberals embroiled in the E-gaming scandal.
The interlocking connections between high-level east-coast Liberals is enough to make your head spin. As David Weale previously posted on Vision PEI’s Facebook page: “Disgraced Premier Ghiz is now CEO of Wireless Canada, a position previously held by former PC Premier of New Brunswick, Bernard Lord. Lord is now the President of Medavie Blue Cross, and guess who was recently appointed to the Board. That is correct, Mr. Ghiz. And further, can you perhaps guess who was also a director before Ghiz’s appointment? Wade MacLauchlan.”
And there’s more. Shawn Graham replaced Bernard Lord as Liberal Premier of New Brunswick in 2006 when Lord left politics to become CEO of Wireless Canada. Like Ghiz in PEI, Graham committed millions ($13 million to be exact) to provide rural internet to remote communities in N.B. in an exclusive deal with a telecommunication giant Xplore Inc. around the same time Ghiz was making amendments to the original agreement we now know was so very lucrative for Bell (2013).
But – like Ghiz and the E-gaming fiasco – rural internet wasn’t the deal that got Graham into big trouble. That happened when he gave “Atcon,” a Miramichi-based manufacturing company, three loan guarantees worth $50 million, directly against the counsel of his civil servants. But Graham’s decision to ignore the advice of civil servants was only one problem with the Atcon file. It turns out Shawn Graham’s father Alan Graham, a former cabinet minister, was a director with a Swedish subsidiary of Atcon, called Vänerply. Atcon eventually went bankrupt and NB taxpayers were only able to recover a small fraction of the $50 million investment. Graham was subsequently found guilty of violating the conflict of interest guidelines, was issued a slap-on-the-wrist fine of a few thousand dollars, stepped-down as premier, and soon exited politics for good. He’s now working closely with the current N.B. Liberal Premier who replaced him, Brian Gallant, to bring wealthy chinese investors to New Brunswick (See: Atlantic Canada to replace B.C. as gateway to China, says Shawn Graham).
What does all this have to do with PEI? Well it’s certainly curious that two young Maritime Liberal premiers both signed multi-million dollar deals with large corporations to deliver internet services to rural communities around the same time; and then both resigned as premiers of their respective provinces before their terms were officially finished after wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in scandalous corporate dealings shrouded in secrecy and reeking with the stench of cronyism and conflicts-of-interest.
But might there be a more direct connection between these two brash young Liberal ex-Premiers? As was the case with Shawn Graham’s predecessor Bernard Lord and Robert Ghiz, e.g., Wireless Canada and Medavie?
Well lets see…there are currently three individuals from New Brunswick on Ducks Unlimited Canada’s National Board of Directors, one of which is Shawn Graham. There is just one individual from Prince Edward Island on Ducks Unlimited Canada’s National Board so what would be the chances of… uh…..yep, you guessed it; quack, quack it’s Robert Ghiz! And just like Mike Duffy, he no longer even lives here.
Can we draw any nefarious conclusions from this strange coincidence? Or Is it merely a canard (french pun intended)? The only thing that keeps popping into my head is the old adage: “Birds of a feather flock together.” Might it be that this fowl instinct explains why ex-maritime Liberal Premiers are so attracted to both Ducks Unlimited and each other? At any rate, I’m sure they have fascinating discussions in evening get-togethers following day-time National Board meetings – most likely over rounds of free drinks. And Senior Bell Mobility Account Executive Mike Jackson (based in New Brunswick) is likely buying…he just happens to be the current fundraising Coordinator for Ducks Unlimited Canada.