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As Furey defends controversial fishing trip, the opposition calls for an ethics commissioner

CBC News |Darrell Roberts|October 20, 2022
Newfoundland and LabradorGeneral
The July 2021 trip, first reported by online publication AllNewfoundlandLabrador, has generated controversy in the House of Assembly because Risley is the chairman of World Energy GH2, a company looking to set up a wind-powered hydrogen-ammonia plant on the Port au Port Peninsula. An access to information request revealed discussions to lift a moratorium on land-based wind power projects began in September 2021, just months after Furey's trip which he took with his father, Senate Speaker George Furey. The premier has repeatedly denied any connection between the end of the moratorium and his friendship with Risley, who was present for part of the trip.

The PC opposition house leader called for the establishment of an ethics commissioner to examine potential conflicts of interest involving members of the House of Assembly.
 
It follows Premier Andrew Furey's trip to a luxury lodge owned by billionaire John Risley.
 
The July 2021 trip, first reported by online publication AllNewfoundlandLabrador, has generated controversy in the House of Assembly because Risley is the chairman of World Energy GH2, a company looking to set up a wind-powered hydrogen-ammonia plant on the Port au Port Peninsula.
 
An access to information request revealed discussions to lift a moratorium on land-based wind power projects began in September 2021, just months after Furey's trip which he took with his father, Senate Speaker George Furey. The premier has repeatedly denied any connection between the end of the moratorium and his friendship with Risley, who was present for part of the trip.
 
While speaking with reporters on Thursday, opposition house leader Barry Petten said a provincial ethics commissioner would improve government transparency.
 
"That would be one way to resolve this. You got the information, let them go and do the investigating. You see it … in Ottawa, and it works well, from what I can tell," Petten said.
 
Unlike the federal government, the provincial government does not have an ethics commissioner, though the House of Assembly has a code of conduct for members.
 
During question period, NDP interim leader Jim Dinn called for a review of the Lobbyist Registration Act in light of the trip to Risley's lodge.
 
"Let's not forget this: this friend stands to make an awful lot of money from a project that will require government approval and using public resources," he said whil ... more [truncated due to possible copyright]
     
The PC opposition house leader called for the establishment of an ethics commissioner to examine potential conflicts of interest involving members of the House of Assembly.
 
It follows Premier Andrew Furey's trip to a luxury lodge owned by billionaire John Risley.
 
The July 2021 trip, first reported by online publication AllNewfoundlandLabrador, has generated controversy in the House of Assembly because Risley is the chairman of World Energy GH2, a company looking to set up a wind-powered hydrogen-ammonia plant on the Port au Port Peninsula.
 
An access to information request revealed discussions to lift a moratorium on land-based wind power projects began in September 2021, just months after Furey's trip which he took with his father, Senate Speaker George Furey. The premier has repeatedly denied any connection between the end of the moratorium and his friendship with Risley, who was present for part of the trip.
 
While speaking with reporters on Thursday, opposition house leader Barry Petten said a provincial ethics commissioner would improve government transparency.
 
"That would be one way to resolve this. You got the information, let them go and do the investigating. You see it … in Ottawa, and it works well, from what I can tell," Petten said.
 
Unlike the federal government, the provincial government does not have an ethics commissioner, though the House of Assembly has a code of conduct for members.
 
During question period, NDP interim leader Jim Dinn called for a review of the Lobbyist Registration Act in light of the trip to Risley's lodge.
 
"Let's not forget this: this friend stands to make an awful lot of money from a project that will require government approval and using public resources," he said while speaking with reporters afterwards.
 
Dinn acknowledged that the premier didn't appear to break rules by going on the trip — but said that fact may mean updated and broadened lobbying is necessary. He agreed with Petten's call for the establishment of an ethics commissioner.
 
Opposition wants receipts
 
During question period, Petten called for Furey to table the receipts from the trip in the House of Assembly.
 
"The premier insists he paid for a trip to Mr. Risley's hunting lodge himself. Will the premier put speculation to rest and table his receipts for this trip?"
 
Furey insisted he paid for the trip himself, saying "it's unfortunate that personal issues are evolving into House issues."
 
"What we do on our own time is on our own dime and should be respected," he said
 
While speaking with reporters afterward, Petten said Furey's position of power opens him up to increased scrutiny from the opposition and the public.
 
"It was Premier Furey who went on that trip, not Andrew Furey," he said.
 
A spokesperson said Furey was not available to answer questions from media on Thursday because he was in a meeting.
 
Petten says Crocker made 'indirect threat'
 
Petten also addressed comments by government house leader Steve Crocker during question period on Wednesday.
 
"Barry, Barry, you want to get personal? It's coming. It's coming this afternoon" Crocker yelled across the floor of the legislature, after Petten asked a question about Furey's trip.
 
While speaking with reporters on Thursday, Petten said Crocker's comments were directed at an unnamed member of the PC caucus. Petten said he wants an apology — both to him and the caucus member to which Crocker was referring.
 
"You are indirectly making a threat," he said.
 
On Thursday, Crocker said he got "heated" because Petten was asking a question about Furey's personal vacation.
 
"I think there also has to be a level that we're allowed to have our own lives as well," he said.
 
Crocker said he has "100 per cent confidence" in the integrity of Furey and Energy Minister Andrew Parsons.
 
Furey told reporters yesterday outside the legislature that he has put "ethical walls" in place so he doesn't interact directly on the proposal with people such as Risley. He says Parsons is handling the application for the government.

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Source:https://www.cbc.ca/news/canad…

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