15 months too long for an audit
Jamie Baillie said he plans to hold government's feet to the fire over delays in the CRDA forensic examination.
Jamie Baillie said he intends to hold government accountable for continued delays in the forensic examination of the closed Cumberland Regional Development Authority.
AMHERST – Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie intends to ask some tough questions about the failed Cumberland Regional Development Authority during the new session of the Nova Scotia legislature.
“I’ve been getting calls from all over Cumberland County, both north and south, about the CRDA audit and I intend to persue it aggressively in this session of the legislature,” the PC party and opposition leader said Wednesday. “The audit was called nearly 15 months ago and it was due last May. It’s unacceptable that it has not been completed. That audit has to be completed in a timely way and the results made public for all to see.”
Former Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris hired Halifax consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers last January to conduct the forensic examination after provincial ombudsman Dwight Bishop expressed some financial concerns with the development agency that closed last summer as the province moved away from regional agencies in favour of enterprise networks.
There is plenty of speculation as to why the examination has taken so long with one suggestion being files were being held by an Amherst law firm owed money by CRDA.
“I’ve heard was others have, that there are records being held back. I am a former auditor and it’s a serious matter when anyone withholds audit evidence, particularly when taxpayers’ money is in question,” Baillie said. “I expect anyone holding audit evidence would have turned it over by now or turn it over immediately so the audit can be complete.”
Baillie said decisions that were made with public money require public accountability and there has not been a public accounting of what happened at CRDA.
Earlier this week, Cumberland North Liberal MLA Terry Farrell said he was told by the province’s conflict of interest commissioner that he is not in a conflict over his role as CRDA’s former solicitor. However, he was also told to respect client-solicitor confidentiality and not to respond to questions on the matter.
Farrell said he has asked Economic and Rural Development Minister Michel Samson to represent the riding’s interests on the file. Baillie said he’s disappointed with Farrell’s comments.
“I know Mr. Farrell has found that he is not in conflict and has said he will have nothing more to say on this matter. That means the people in Cumberland North can’t turn to their own MLA for answers. I think that’s a shame,” he said. “On this one, I feel like I’m acting as the MLA for all of Cumberland County trying to get these answers on CRDA and I’ll use my role as leader of the opposition to push the government to get the answers out.”
Baillie said the Royal Bank of Canada is an organization a thousand times larger than CRDA. He said it only too a fraction of the time to complete its audit. He can’t understand what’s taking this one so long.