The NDP says there is a time gap of when Finance Minister Donna Harpauer became aware that the village of Pinehouse paid for two trips there and when she actually reimbursed Pinehouse.
Harpauer claims she was informed of the situation when MBC News broke the story in December.
Yet an internal email dated November 30, 2018 from Harpauer’s constituency office, acknowledges that the Minister’s Legislative Office was made aware of the accommodation invoice, and that Pinehouse had covered the cost.
The email asked that the invoice be disregarded.
Harpauer says staff in both offices kept this information from her. “I think what it shows is there is a significant gap in time between when she became aware of this and when the story broke, that is when she decided it was time to pay this money,” NDP critic Cathy Sproule said Tuesday.
The first trip took place Aug. 12-13, 2016 and involved Harpauer and her partner. The total cost of $319 was paid by cheque by the northern municipality.
The second personal trip took place Aug. 15-17, 2018. This time, although the hotel room was booked under Harpauer’s name, the guests are listed as spouse and one other party. The total bill of $499.50 was also paid by cheque by Pinehouse.
Harpauer explained that she thought personal friend and village councilor Conrad Misponas paid for the trip.
Harpauer says she did not think there would be a problem in accepting the gift as the 2018 trip was personal and not involving ministerial responsibilities.
She says Conflict of Interest Commissioner Ronald Barclay had the invoice email, when he examined the situation in December.
Barclay ruled that Harpauer was not in conflict and acted appropriately in reimbursing Pinehouse, when becoming aware of the payment.
Despite Barclay’s opinion, Sproule says Harpauer was in conflict of interest for accepting the gift in 2016, when as Northern Affairs Minister, the government was investigating Pinehouse.
With files from Fraser Needham