Federal integrity commissioner probing hirings by Cape Breton development agency

HALIFAX – A letter from the federal integrity commissioner says the chief executive of an economic development agency in Cape Breton is being investigated for alleged patronage hirings.

Mario Dion, commissioner of the Office of Public Sector Integrity, wrote that his agency launched the inquiry into four hirings by John Lynn, chief executive of the Enterprise Cape Breton Corp., following a complaint by Liberal MP Gerry Byrne.

A spokeswoman with Dion’s office declined to comment on the letter, which was provided to The Canadian Press by the Liberal party along with a copy of Byrne’s original Dec. 13, 2012 complaint.

Lynn did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment.

In his complaint, Byrne alleged Lynn did not follow proper hiring practices when he hired three people with “strong ties” to the Tories for senior jobs at the agency.

Dion says in his response letter that an investigation into Lynn’s hiring practices should go ahead because there are “reasonable grounds to believe that a wrongdoing was committed.”

The integrity commissioner’s letter also says it will look into the alleged mismanagement of a marina project in Cape Breton that was funded by the agency.

The letter says Dion’s office will examine whether Lynn committed gross mismanagement as defined under provisions of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

Lynn was named CEO of the Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. in 2008, and had previously been a long-serving executive with Sobeys. A spokesman for the agency says Lynn is on leave from his position for an undisclosed period of time.