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Kent cries foul as former Liberal candidate gets government funding

Progressive Conservative MHA Steve Kent.
Progressive Conservative MHA Steve Kent.

Progressive Conservative MHA Steve Kent said he was dismayed to see that the Liberal government provided nearly $150,000 in business development funding to a former Liberal candidate on the south coast of the province.

But Bill Carter, the former Liberal candidate who got money to upgrade his hotel, didn’t think much of Kent’s concerns.

“Bullshit,” Carter said when The Telegram called and explained the issue.

“The election is long behind me. We’re working very hard on growing our business and developing our business.”

On Tuesday, the provincial government announced funding for a bunch of projects on the south coast. One of those projects was $149,920 to help with upgrading Carter’s Southern Port Hotel in Harbour Breton, and building four cottages on the property.

“I think it’s a blatant abuse of power, and a blatant abuse of taxpayers’ dollars for the Liberal government to be continuing to be rewarding Liberal party supporters,” Kent said Wednesday.

“A gift of $150,000 for a recent Liberal candidate to fix up his hotel and build some new cabins doesn’t seem like a great use of the Business Investment Fund, and this trend is continuing.”

Kent also pointed out Carter had been appointed to the government’s Standing Fish Price-Setting Panel earlier this year.

When it comes to the money, the provincial government clarified to The Telegram that it is mostly a loan, with $110,000 due to be repaid with interest, and the other $40,000 to be used for marketing costs.

Carter, when he spoke to The Telegram, said he was under the impression the whole amount is a repayable loan, which will be used on a combination of the cottages, but also on energy efficiency, heat recovery and air conditioning systems.

Carter said they’re trying to build the tourism industry in a beautiful but largely forgotten corner of the province. He said he’s been trying to arrange for bus tours to come to the Coast of Bays.

“In order to do that, I need to be able to accommodate a certain number of people,” he said.

“The addition will give me that extra capacity.”

Christopher Mitchelmore, minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, said decisions like this are made by bureaucrats, and they doesn’t even come to the politicians.

“If a loan reaches a certain scale, then it would go through a cabinet process, but this loan would not meet that mechanism,” Mitchelmore said. “It would go through departmental staff.”

Mitchelmore said the government sees a lot of promising potential in the south coast for tourism.

“If there are other operators that are looking at doing upgrades or expanding, I certainly encourage them to talk to the department,” he said.

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