Former Premier Shawn Graham has made a surprising announcement on Friday, stating to have decided to officially resign from his position as the Liberal MLA for Kent, only four days past the incident when the province’s conflict-of-interest commissioner released a harsh report regarding his dealing of the contentious Atcon file. The announcement was made by Graham on Friday during a news conference in Fredericton. He declared that his resignation will be put in effect on March 11, which will ultimately leave the Liberals with only 12 seats out of the 55-seat legislative assembly.
The much-anticipated conflict-of-interest report was filed by Retired Justice Patrick Ryan on Monday, which evaluated how Graham had handled the awarding of $50 million in loan guarantees to the Miramichi-based Atcon. Graham alleged in a press statement that “I purposely chose to remain as a member of the Legislative Assembly until the conclusion of the matter under consideration by commissioner Ryan.” Ryan concluded that Graham was indeed in a conflict of interest, for which, he shall be fined $3,500. Graham claimed that he plans to pay the fine, even though he is not compelled to do so after his resignation, because it frees him from the jurisdiction of the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act.
Graham officially affirmed that “I believe that as a result of these political games, my continued presence as a member of the Legislative Assembly is also an unnecessary distraction for the New Brunswick Liberal party and our new leader, Brian Gallant.” He added that “I have always tried to put the best interests of the Liberal party before my own. I have discussed this matter with our leader and we mutually believe that this is the best action to be taken.”
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