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Bluenose II

New Democrats say the finances of the trust that oversees the fabled Bluenose Two schooner are almost as murky as a harbour bottom. The Opposition party is calling for a full, independent audit. N-D-P Finance critic Graham Steele says recent revelations tying the province's sailing ambassador to the federal sponsorship scandal are just the latest in a series of disturbing developments. He says the trust's operations have been immersed in secrecy. Tourism Minister Rodney MacDonald admits it's been tough to get specific financial details out of the trust, beyond its annual statement. But he says he can't order an audit because the agency is outside of government. The agency receives $650,000 a year from the province to operate and promote the schooner. The trust was recently embroiled in controversy when it sued a local company for copyright infrigement. The agency had obtained the trademark to the schooner without the province's knowledge.

Ottawa - Gerald Keddy, Conservative Party Member of Parliament for South Shore, Monday rose in the House of Commons on the following question:

Mr. Speaker, the Bluenose II has become the latest victim of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Public works documents show more than $3 million was allocated to the Bluenose through a Liberal friendly communication firm. One contract in 1997-98 was for $2.3 million, yet the Bluenose trust insists it only received $349,000. Will the Minister of Public Works explain how his department wrote a cheque for $2.3 million and only delivered $349,000?

Public Works Minister Stephen Owen confirms the government is investigating a Quebec ad agency's 2.3 million-dollar contract to publicize ``Bluenose Two.'' The ship's foundation got only $349,000 of that amount, and the government is now suing La Fleur Communications of Quebec over the contract.