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A single page. That appears to be the only paperwork that was done by the public service agency in determining the government's post-employment guidelines wouldn't conflict with its oil and gas division head leaving to work for a major petroleum interest. But that's just not good enough for provincial New Democrat energy, mines and petroleum resources critic John Horgan.

Those guidelines 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.

As a result, division head Gordon Goodman contacted the public service agency "to ensure he was not in a conflict" if he went to work for the Canadian subsidiary of EOG Resources Inc. - one of many companies he had approved royalty reductions for on the recommendation of government staff.

The response: in a four-paragraph letter exclusively obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, public service agency head Lynda Tarras advised Mr. Goodman "the dealings that you had with this company were not substantive enough to have resulted in a competitive advantage for this organization and, therefore, accepting this position is not a violation of the restrictions."

The ministry of citizens' services didn't respond by publication time to a question about why Ms. Tarras concluded approving royalty reductions didn't count as "substantial involvement."

But she came to that conclusion after reviewing matter with the premier's deputy minister Allan Seckel and then energy, mines and petroleum resources minister Greg Reimer - who has since left government for a senior position at BC Hydro Corp.

In an interview with Public Eye, Mr. Horgan stated, "It seems to me that an exchange of correspondence is inadequate and a thorough explanation as to why the code of conduct didn't conflict should have been provided for not just Goodman but other civil servants in his position."

"How she can conclude that the interactions were not substantial when it involved a multi-million benefit to the company is absolutely inconceivable - that you could conclude that's an insignificant interaction," he continued. "It certainly doesn't give you and confidence that there are protections and safeguards for the public when public servants decide to seek greener pastures in the private sector."

Lynda Tarras's letter to Gordon Goodman

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