Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Abortion Views, Conflict Allegations Trip Up Newfoundland Premier-to-Be

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Abortion Views, Conflict Allegations Trip Up Newfoundland Premier-to-Be

Article excerpt

Rough ride for incoming Newfoundland premier

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - What was supposed to be a smooth waltz into the Newfoundland and Labrador premier's office has become a rough stumble for Frank Coleman.

The Corner Brook-based businessman and political novice is two months away from being confirmed leader of the governing Progressive Conservatives and sworn in as premier.

But he's already the target of conflict-of-interest allegations two weeks after assuring voters that his long-held pro-life views won't roll back access to abortion when he takes power.

"We have an incoming, unelected premier who apparently is secretive and doesn't like to talk to people, talk to the media," Liberal Andrew Parsons said outside the legislature Tuesday.

"Is this what this government is going to revert to? To being even more secretive than they already were?"

Parsons and New Democrat George Murphy took aim for a second day Tuesday at a cancelled paving deal involving a company recently led by Coleman. They say the case raises questions about conflict-of-interest.

Coleman declined an interview request through a spokeswoman.

The opposition parties want auditor general Terry Paddon to investigate after Premier Tom Marshall said Humber Valley Paving was allowed to walk away without penalty from a $20-million contract to finish about 80 kilometres of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Marshall has said that was due to exceptional circumstances, including forest fires last summer that threw construction behind schedule. He told reporters last week the company completed about 60 per cent of the work and was paid for that only.

At stake were two bonds worth a total of $19 million meant to guarantee the work.

Transportation Minister Nick McGrath said Tuesday he personally negotiated on March 13 an end to the contract with Coleman's son and company spokesman, Gene Coleman. …

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