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Minister says there was no patronage involved in hiring for N.B. library job


March 4, 2020
By Kevin Bissett/The Canadian Press

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New Brunswick’s minister of post-secondary education, training and labour says there was no patronage involved in the hiring of the new executive director of the province’s Public Library Service.

Trevor Holder’s comments follow calls from the Opposition Liberals for the Progressive Conservative government to rescind the hiring of Kevin Cormier.

In a rare move for a cabinet minister to comment on an individual personnel issue, Holder said he’s been hearing the accusations of political patronage.

“I want to make myself crystal clear on this. I never had any knowledge of this person’s hiring until such time as my deputy minister informed me that he had the job.”

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“I never had a conversation with him prior to that or my deputy minister prior to that. The only thing I knew was that the job was vacant and there was a search out to find a candidate,” Holder said Wednesday.

Questionable qualifications: Liberals

The Liberals have said Cormier has no qualifications to run the 64 public libraries, a post that comes with a salary of up to $114,000 per year.

The job listing said essential qualifications included a master’s degree in library or information studies, but Liberal legislator Guy Arseneault says Cormier falls well short of that.

Cormier’s LinkedIn profile says he was at a business school in Toronto for a year and spent two years at the Moncton Flight College.

For seven years he was executive director of the provincially run Kings Landing Historical Settlement near Fredericton, and he worked for a year as an adviser in the province’s executive council office.

“I’ve heard (Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers) and Mr. Arseneault making political patronage accusations. If anybody can prove one way or another that myself, Premier Higgs or the PC Party of New Brunswick had any involvement in this hiring they better cough it up, because it doesn’t exist,” Holder said.

Proper hiring process followed: Ministser

The minister said he has been assured by his former deputy minister that the proper hiring process was followed.

He said there may be a need to review how job listings are worded to ensure they are very clear in what is required.

“I would suggest New Brunswickers give (Cormier) the time to prove himself,” Holder said.

Cormier has not responded to requests for comment.

Holder said he is committed to the enhancement, protection and promotion of the library service in the province. he says there have been no cuts to library funding since he’s been minister and he has no intention to make any.