Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman is sending mixed signals about whether there should be restrictions against oil and gas commission employees leaving to work for the companies that agency regulates. The issue has come up because, in August, the head of that commission Alex Ferguson left to become a senior advisor with oil add gas company Apache Canada Ltd.
Asked about that move, Mr. Coleman said, "I think people have a right if they leave one job to seek another job. Alex served us really well in this position. He did a great job for us."
"My understanding is that the work he's going to be doing for his new employer isn't going to be in Canada. It's going to be outside of Canada. So we don't see any cross-conflicts at this point in time."
In a separate interview, Mr. Ferguson added he didn't make any decisions concerning Apache or its competitors in the months between when he decided to leave the commission and his departure.
Nevertheless, if he been a government rather than a commission employee, Mr. Ferguson would have been subject to post-employment guidelines which could have restricted or prohibited his future job options - although loopholes exist and waivers can be given.
For example, senior bureaucrats must wait 12 months before going to work for a company they've had dealings with during the year prior to their departure from government - but only if that involvement was "substantial."
Asked whether he thought the commission, in the future, should be subject to such guidelines, Mr. Coleman said, "I think as a result of this coming up, we're going to have a chat with them. But we're not going to be doing it for the next couple weeks."