CBC News has learned that a complaint filed against the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation last year sparked a government-wide review of anti-nepotism rules for all agencies, boards and commissions.
The complaint was filed by a wine distributor who alleged he lost business because the NLC began purchasing products from a company linked to the son of former CEO Steve Winter, who was sacked Jan. 5.
'The citizens' representative did identify that because there was no policy in place there were no rules broken, but any objective person looking at this would have concerns.'- Tom Osborne
Boyd Goodyear filed a complaint against the NLC with the provincial citizens' representative. Barry Fleming says Goodyear, who claimed to have 30 years of experience with Bordeaux wines, began losing business to Winter's son and one of Winter's friends, both of whom who had gotten into the wine business within the last eight years.
Fleming, in his report, concluded Winter did nothing wrong but recommended the NLC's board of directors establish an anti-nepotism policy that would be "tailored for employees and contractors who are in familial relationships with board members or persons in positions of authority within the NLC."
That report ended up at the Department of Finance. Minister Tom Osborne says it has prompted cabinet to begin drafting new across-the-board anti-nepotism rules.
"The citizens' representative did identify that because there was no policy in place there were no rules broken, but any objective person looking at this would have concerns," Osborne said.
New rules to apply to all agencies, boards and commissions
Osborne added the new rules won't just apply to the NLC.
"Regardless of who the individual is, or what level of agency, board or commission, we do need an anti-nepotism policy," he said.
Osborne said he hopes to roll out the new guidelines in the near future.
Steve Winter told the CBC the report is incomplete and paints a "totally distorted picture" because he was never given an opportunity to add to it. He said he never dealt directly with his son or friend, adding that was always done by the NLC's purchasing department.