Friday, December 11, 2009

Poor Perception...

Although the PEI Liquor Commission is a crown corporation it is really a large "public" corporation with sales in excess of $100,000,000 a year. With most corporations of this size their members are usually well scrutinized before being invited to join the Board..... and before accepting they usually sign an undertaking that clearly spells out that they will act professionally and have the best interests of shareholders (in this case the Government) in mind at all times. The Commission's latest annual report identifies the role of the Board "is to supervise the business affairs of the Commission" and it lists Board member responsibilities to include "acting honestly and in good faith in making decisions with a view to the best interests of the PEILCC and its stakeholders". It now appears that Mr. Higgins had a previous fraud conviction about 12 years ago but he has served his penalty and society should give him the benefit of the doubt that he will conduct himself honestly in the future which I believe to be the case.... we all know that Chris has been a loyal and dedicated Liberal Party worker which no doubt helped lead to his appointment to the Board and if it turns out that he hadn't given full disclosure to the Government then the perception is that it reflects badly on the Liberal Party something I don't think Chris would like to see happen... this all being said if he didn't declare his previous conviction prior to his appointment (and he may not have been even asked) then he really has no choice but to offer up his resignation to the Board for their review... the Board doesn’t have to accept it but it’s certainly is a way to help clear the air and put the issue of the public’s poor perception of politics behind us...
Liberals appoint man convicted of fraud to PEI liquor board
Eastern Graphic
By Paul MacNeill
The Ghiz cabinet has appointed a man convicted in 1997 of defrauding the provincial government to the board of the PEI Liquor Commission. Chris Higgins, of Charlottetown, was appointed September 30, the same day as former Liberal MLA Hector MacLeod. Mr Higgins, a former Liberal riding association president, will serve on the board until September 30, 2012. For each meeting he attends, the 43 year old will receive a per diem of $134. Meetings are normally held monthly. Provincial Court documents show Mr Higgins was charged in 1996 with six counts of defrauding the government. In September 1997 he pleaded guilty to a single count, with the five remaining charges being dropped. The conviction pertains to fraudulent man-hour reports he submitted to government between December 2, 1992 and April 9th, 1994. Mr Higgins was sentenced to 18 months probation, ordered to pay restitution of $699 and complete 50 hours of community service. When contacted Mr Higgins said he could not remember the conviction. When reminded of the specific details he said, "you’re talking about something in 1997. That was 12 years ago." He would not answer questions pertaining to the incident or whether he informed the premier’s office of the conviction when he applied for an appointment. The premier’s office would not comment for this story.According to the Liquor Commission’s 2007-2008 annual report, the role of the board is to "supervise the business affairs of the commission." Board member responsibilities listed include "acting honestly and in good faith in making decisions with a view to the best interests of the PEILCC and its stakeholders." The provincial cabinet makes appointments to provincial boards. Participate in PEI was created by the Ghiz government as a means of encouraging Islanders to serve on provincial boards or commissions. Applicants are required to submit cover letters outlining their expertise. However, they are not asked if they hold a criminal record.


Anonymous said...

The question is will he offer his resignation.
Of course it would be the best for all parties involved..but will he?

If he does indeed offer than the Board should certainly accept it and if he doesn;t the board really has no choice but to ask for it.

How could anyone who will be appearing before the board in the upcoming years ever be charged with or convicted of any wrong doing by a board that includes a member who doesn't bother to disclose his illegal activities and said convictions.

This is not the Government's fault really...if anything and in this day & age they should for all future appointments ask all potential appointees provide a criminal background record.

But for this case let's hope Higgins will do the right thing and step down.

Anonymous said...

At first was sympathetic,he made a mistake and had changed his life and learned from his experience...but when I read his response to the reporters questions..saying"I don't remember"then made excuses saying 12 years had gone by...etc..that is not a person of honesty or someone who is upfront and open about his or her past....I don't know the man or his circumstances and I am not in a position to judge him....but at his age ..he should be accountable to himself and his employer the Govt.....people in PEI don't forget personal flaws..someone in the Liberal party new his background ,but put political patronage ahead of accountability...did he apply for a pardon?..was he fired at the time? Criminal record checks are now the norm in the majority of job of the biggest reasons is offenders in positions of authority like teachers or coaches.....and a history of fraud in a postion of claims ,expences and large monetary budgets makes ones eyebrows raise ....fraud is a fancy word for shoplifting is afancy word not exposing his past..he was being dishonest...

Anonymous said...

I am of two minds on this one. Chris is a honest person to the core. I don't know the circumstances of this past conviction but at what point can you get past a previous mistake. He is not in a position of trust ie. handling finances in his new position and therefore this past transgression would not effect his seat on the Board.

I am more concerned with people being qualified for these Boards and not just being placed on them for their past help with the party.

Is this story timely and should Chris be publicly scrutinized? Yes. But with a front page story?

Unfortunately many people have had problems in their past. Some seem able to recover ie. it is not brought up again while others seem never to be able to recover no matter how much they work at it. Someone is always waiting in the wings to bring you down.

If someone went bankrupt in the past would that prevent them from being a successful business person in the future or should that prevent them from handling finances for an organization.

It seems to depend on who you are.