Former Notley chief of staff rehired as ‘executive adviser’ while facing FOIP probe

The former chief of staff for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was rehired as an “executive adviser” to the Alberta government shortly after leaving his job last fall. 

According to an employment contract now posted online, Heaney was hired Oct. 9, 2017, to serve as an adviser to Treasury Board and Finance.

That term expired on March 23, 2018. Three days later, the employment term was extended to Dec. 31, 2018. Heaney’s responsibilities were then to be split between the finance and energy ministries.

Heaney, who returned to his law practice in Victoria after he left the premier’s office, is being paid $130,000.

He is also a registered lobbyist in British Columbia, where his clients include Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart and Nuuvera, a cannabis and industrial hemp company based in Toronto.

Cheryl Oates, Notley’s director of communications, said Heaney “has been tasked with providing legal advice related to pipelines and market access – working specifically on the Trans Mountain expansion file – and also assisted with development of a path to reduce our budget deficit.

“While only permanent staff are listed on the government staff directory, Mr. Heaney’s contract, and those of all political staff in our government, are publicly available online.”

It is not clear why that work could not be performed by lawyers within the Alberta government. 

The details of Heaney’s new job with the Alberta government were raised by the Official Opposition United Conservative Party on Thursday.

They noted Heaney is currently under investigation by the province’s privacy and information commissioner over alleged political interference in a freedom of information request.

“Alberta’s NDP government needs to explain why it thought it appropriate to re-hire someone that’s the subject of an ongoing investigation into political interference, and deliberately hide this information from the public,” UCP MLA Nathan Cooper said in a news release.

“This comes at a time when those offices are engaged on an important pipeline file, one integral to our province’s vital economic interests.”

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