It’s clear that Pictou West MLA Charlie Parker took the time to think, before he made an application for a small piece of Crown land adjacent to his own.
He took the time to make sure it wasn’t a violation of conflict of interest policies and from what he says, made sure he was following all the rules.
What he didn’t anticipate, but should have, was the response from the public incited by the opposition over his bid.
While far from scientific, an online poll on ngnews.ca found that almost 32 per cent of people thought that his bidding on the land was totally corrupt.
We don’t feel that was the case. Parker has nothing to gain financially from owning the piece of property appraised at $1,300. He couldn’t have made a fortune cutting wood off of it or even selling it later for a profit as real estate. It was just a little piece of property that his family decided would be nice to have.
It’s true that the Department of Natural Resources doesn’t typically sell land, but it appears in this case, with ten other families making similar bids, that this wasn’t a case of political favour.
But as minister of Natural Resources and an experienced politician, Parker should have realized that it didn’t look good for him to be bidding on land that his own department handled. There’s a perception, whether real or not, that his application would be approved based on his position alone. With an election looming it made sense for the opposition to jump on this chance to attack Parker’s character.
Being a public figure bears a burden in that not only what a person does has to be honest and aboveboard, but it has to appear that way as well. The latter is by far the harder task.
Overall the whole case was much ado about nothing, but hopefully it will serve as a lesson for local politicians to consider how what they do will look to those from the outside.