"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Liz Matthews on Liz Matthews

On Friday, the Opposition issued a stunning press release which stated, among other things:

Jones noted the Dunderdale government’s accompanying biography of Ms. Matthews, which it is using to convince the federal government to agree to make the former PR director the vice-chairperson of the C-NLOPB, falsely portrays her as the brain trust behind the Williams administration.

“Her title was Director of Communications,” said Jones.

The Liberal Leader said it is unacceptable that Kathy Dunderdale would appoint a former communications director to a position which should be filled by someone with expertise and experience in regulatory and marine safety issues.
On Monday, Ms. Matthews did protest:
“I was incredibly honoured to accept this nomination which was offered to me by Premier Dunderdale. I never would have accepted the offer if I was not fully confident in my capabilities and the level of experience that I could bring to the C-NLOPB. I spent seven years as the Director of Communications and as a senior advisor to Premier Williams. In that role, I was a part of a team that advised the Premier and Cabinet on major policy and negotiations including energy and other projects. Despite Opposition Party claims to the contrary, I was also a part of the team for several projects related to offshore oil and gas development including the Hebron offshore development, the renewed Atlantic Accord, Hibernia South extension, White Rose extension and the Lower Churchill project. The slanderous assertion by the Leader of the Opposition that I “padded” my resume is both insulting and false. I think it is important that people in positions of leadership question the qualifications of those appointed to these positions - we should all be accountable to the public; however, Ms. Jones choose to attack me as a “flunkie” without ever discussing with me directly my true qualifications and capabilities. I have spent my entire professional career working alongside thousands of competent and dedicated people, developing progressive social and economic policy for this province, including in the area of offshore oil and gas. I was blessed to be a part of a team in Premier Williams’ office that I truly believe made this incredible province a better place to live and I know that my experience could have contributed greatly to the C-NLOPB.

The work of the C-NLOPB is critically important to our offshore workers. I have been deeply troubled that those people have been used by the Leader of the Opposition as political fodder in this debate. On the morning of March 12 two years ago I was the first person in the Premier’s Office to take the phone call regarding the Cougar tragedy and I spent that day and the days afterwards working with the authorities on government’s behalf. I had friends and family who lost loved ones that day and I have been sincerely heartsick to know that in these past weeks they have been subjected to unnecessary fear mongering. To imply that my potential appointment could somehow compromise offshore safety is very disturbing and irresponsible. The depth to which the Opposition has taken this debate is a political agenda taken too far. For this reason I am withdrawing my name from the nomination process. To be clear, I am not withdrawing because I feel in anyway incapable of performing this job, as I am incredibly proud of my professional accomplishments and gladly defend my abilities to the Opposition. But the politicalization of this issue has gone too far. The Opposition will attempt to claim victory; but on the contrary, they have shamefully created this debate for political purposes. I would have hoped that if Ms. Jones was sincere about wanting a qualified person for this position she would have made a legitimate attempt to find out about my abilities as opposed to spreading inaccuracies. I can only hope that in this - an election year - those who are qualified, energetic and passionate about making this province a better place will not be deterred from taking part in the political process by the unnecessary negativity that sometimes occurs.”
For the record, and for the benefit of Yvonne Jones, Liz Matthews, and anyone else who may not know enough about the qualifications of Liz Matthews, here is what Liz Matthews said about Liz Matthews' qualifications during Liz Matthews' appearance before the Cameron Inquiry, responding to questions from Commission counsel Bern Coffey, on June 10, 2008:

COFFEY, Q.C.: Ms. Matthews, would you tell us, please, give us a kind of a brief outline of your educational background and your professional background?

MS. MATTHEWS: A. Sure. I graduated from Memorial University in 2000 and—or sorry, 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a minor in History. Upon completion of my degree I moved to Toronto for a few years and I worked there in the private sector. I returned to the province I guess around 1998 and I went to work with the Provincial Government and I’ve been with the province ever since that time working in a variety of departments, always in a communications capacity. I started in the Department of Mines and--former Mines and Energy, it’s now Natural Resources. I worked there as a communication specialist, which is a junior position. I then moved to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, also as a communication specialist but eventually was promoted to the position of Director of Communications. I then worked in the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Education, in both of those departments as a director of communications and in 2003 I went to work with Premier Williams as his director of communications in the Premier’s office.

COFFEY, Q.C.: And so you would have been a communications director beginning when, with the departments?

MS. MATTHEWS: Oh, gosh, I guess it probably would have been around 2001, 2002, probably 2001.

COFFEY, Q.C.: Okay, so your experience as a communications director then began in 2001 or ’02?


COFFEY, Q.C.: In the first of those departments you’ve named. And then you have been a communications director in a department or the Premier’s office since that time?

MS. MATTHEWS: A. That’s right.


MS. MATTHEWS: I was just going to clarify that although directors of communications in departments are now public service and they have been since November of ’03, I myself am still a political appointment. Obviously, you know, the staff people in the Premier’s office, for obvious reasons, are politically appointed. So myself and the press secretary in our office are, we would pretty much be the only two communications people within government, with the exception of government members office, which is our government caucus, they also have communications folks; we would be the only politically appointed communications people within government.


At 12:40 PM, March 14, 2011 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did Billy Hickey, Williams' son-in-law, get his communications gig a few years back? Wasn't through the Public Service, and it was after November of 2003. Glad to see Matthews do the honourable thing here and withdraw, even if she did so with a dramatic and laughable diatribe this a.m. "Slander"???!!


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