Housing Minister Alfred Moses is standing by his decision to award a longtime aide with a $130,000 a year job.
Facing questions from Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart in the legislative assembly on Feb. 21, Moses denied he was in a conflict of interest when he made his former aide Maia Lepage a Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) adviser.
“I’m not going into the details of somebody’s resume,” said Moses. “The individual is very well-qualified and has done a lot of work at the regional, territorial and even national level.”
Testart asked whether Moses will allow his decision to be reviewed before the conflict of interest commissioner, but Moses was adamant that hiring Lepage was within his ministerial authority.
“A decision was made – a legislated decision, and I stand by that,” said Moses.
Lepage got the three-year contract last year. She has worked as Moses’s campaign agent, constituency assistant and senior adviser.
She was also the managing editor of Tusaayaksat Magazine, a product of the Inuvialuit Communications Society.
She will replace Patrick Scott, who resigned from the position in September. Scott advocated for an assistant position under the WSCC to manage the heavy caseload.
Scott planned for continuity and crossover to train the new employee in his position, said Moses.
Testart questioned what processes were in place to ensure transparency of appointments.
Regardless of the minister’s authority, Testart wants Moses to have his decision assessed by a third party with expertise in what constitutes a conflict of interest.
In previous years, the position was open to a public process, said Testart.
“Everyone knows the minister is capable of making this appointment,” he said. “It’s the minister’s judgement around this appointment that is the issue.”
“I acknowledge that the minister has the discretion,” he continued. “Why did the minister not follow the same process that Northerners have come to expect surrounding this appointment?”
Moses voiced confidence in his appointment and said he could not speak to the decisions of the previous minister.
“I look forward to the new workers’ advisor doing a great job working in this position and working for the safety and well-being and wellness of our employees,” said Moses. “I look forward to having a longtime Northerner working in this area.”