Despite the new era of restraint, the Progressive Conservative Government is continuing to dole out patronage to defeated candidates, creating lavish new jobs and making a mockery of the Premier's crusade to reign in spending.
It is difficult not to respect John Noseworthy. While some were critical of the job he did as Auditor General, I think he did an incredible job of making government departments, agencies and crown corporations accountable for the way in which they spent taxpayers money, managed programs and deployed resources.
He was not intimidated by power, in fact he spoke truth to power, earning a great deal of respect in, and outside of the provincial government.
The opposition paint him as a defeated Progressive Conservative candidate that is being rewarded for running against NDP Leader Lorraine Micheal in last year's provincial election. If anything, Noseworthy was naive about politics. The man is a career civil servant who believes in service. It is no secret that he spoke with the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives about running. If he was an opportunist, he would have spoken to the Progressive Conservatives a lot earlier and vied for a winnable seat! My point, he believes in public service.
In fact, didn't a couple of gritty MHA's offer him the Liberal Party on a shinny platter? I remember the alleged fall-out when Noteworthy rejected the overtures at last years Regatta. On top of that, the official oppositions criticism ranks of hypocrisy. Their Chief of Staff is a former MHA that resigned, but is now getting paid by public funds in another role.Wasn't the hiring for that position short circuited as well? I assume the former Liberal Cabinet Minister is hauling down two salaries!
The rub is that at a point in time when the Premier is calling for restraint and laying-off employees in a bloated un-checked organization, that has refused to listen to past warnings from auditor general about unsustainable levels of spending, has given a defeated Progressive Conservative candidate a $140,000 contract.to clean-up just one department.
Noseworthy has never run a department. He is a dam good public accountant. If he had been appointed to head a task force to look at government wide spending, a comprehensive program review, his percieved reward might be more palatable. If he had been appointed as a Deputy Minister for the department he has been assigned to clean-up, the optics would have been better.
Is Noseworthy the best person for the job, of course not. Government has dozens of senior planners, accountants and HR people that could have handled this job. A RFP could have been issued for the services.
A $140,000 contract to a former P.C. candidate in receipt of a government pension in an atmosphere where all other contract and temporary employees are fearing for their jobs is not only not very politically astute, it undermines the Premier's credibility in dealing with a long overdue review of government spending.
For many, the fact that Noseworthy has been given this gig speaks to hypocrisy., do as I say, not as I do. This is a shame, because up to this point, Noseworthy has always oozed credibility.
Now he will be perceived as another political pig thrashing around in the public trough.