The government is still refusing to explain why its post-employment restrictions for senior bureaucrats didn't conflict with the head of its oil and gas division leave to work for a major petroleum interest. But we now know the premier's right-hand man, Allan Seckel, was involving in okaying that departure. Last month, we exclusively told you how Gordon Goodman left the civil service on April 16 to join the Canadian subsidiary of EOG Resources Inc. - one of many companies he had approved royalty reductions for on the recommendation of government staff. Before leaving, he contacted the province's public service agency "to ensure he was not in conflict regarding government's post-employment restrictions," according to government spokesperson.
Those restrictions require bureaucrats with the rank of assistant deputy minister or above to wait a year before working for a company they've had "substantial involvement" with during the "year immediately preceding" the end of their employment with the province.
But, in a response to a recent inquiry from New Democrat energy, mines and petroleum resources critic John Horgan, the agency's head Lynda Tarras stated, "in consolation with the Deputy Minister to the Premier (Mr. Seckel), I concluded that accepting this position (at EOG Resources), in and of itself, would not violate" the guidelines.
"Notwithstanding this fact," she continued, "Mr. Goodman was also reminded that the provisions of the policy remain in place and any future actions should be guided by this during the period of the one year restriction."
But that response wasn't good enough for Horgan. In a follow-up letter to Ms. Tarras sent on Tuesday, the critic wrote, "Although your assurance that a review took place is of some comfort, without a full disclosure of the extent of the review it is difficult to assure my constituents that the public interest was protected."
"I must assume that a record was kept of the review. Consequently, I would request that you provide any e-mails, memorandum or briefing materials prepared as a result of this matter," he concluded, noting Seckel's participation was of "particular interest."
Mr. Goodman didn't respond a renewed request for comment sent via email last week.
His job at EOG Resources has been described by various sources as everything from manager of "government and regulatory affairs" to manager of "health and safety." But while there may be some uncertainty surrounding his title, what is clear is he's presently registered as an in-house lobbyist for the company.
Goodman remains bound by the civil service's confidentiality requirements. Those requirements also apply to Natalie Poole-Moffatt and Michael Lambert, two other top officials from the ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources who recently left for the oilpatch.
But because Ms. Poole-Moffatt was a political staffer and Mr. Lambert was one-step below an assistant deputy minister, they weren't captured by the more rigorous post-employment guidelines that applied to Mr. Goodman.
Nevertheless, Ms. Poole-Moffatt reached an agreement to have no professional contact with ministry officials or the minister's office for a period of one year.
The following is a complete copy of Ms. Tarras's letter.