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Clem Paul says he can justify all spending outlined in a recent forensic audit.

Clem Paul fires back

Darren Stewart
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 21/03) - Clem Paul called the recent North Slave Metis Alliance audit an attempt at a power grab by Bob Turner and his supporters.

Turner, the interim president of the alliance, ordered the audit last December after "irregularities" in the groups finance were discovered.

Paul, who was suspended indefinitely in December, introduced himself as the president of the association at a press conference on Tuesday to respond to the audit.

"Bob Turner and others clearly have an agenda to remove me, and to paint anything and everything in the worse possible light" he said. "This has turned out to be a terrible hate campaign that I clearly do not deserve."

Paul said the audit was "orchestrated" by Turner and he was excluded from contributing to it.

"If I was allowed to talk to the auditors I would have been able to clear 99.9 per cent of this."

"I could have cleared up a lot of this stuff that I hope to clear up today."

Paul called the audit "a witch-hunt" and said many of the problems revealed by it can be considered the growing pains of a rapidly expanding organization.

"In six years we took this organization from nothing to a $16-million operation," he said. "Clearly our administrative policies and financial procedures haven't kept pace with that development."

Grand Prix justified

He said he can justify all of his spending and all his trips were approved by the board.

The controversial trip to Montreal was for a business meeting with Sodexho, a catering and hospitality provider, and not to see Formula One race that weekend, he said.

"While Sodexho took us all to the Grand Prix one afternoon, the flight and the taxis and the hotels are all legitimate expenses related to a business relationship with Sodexho, who paid for all expenses related to the Grand Prix."

He said the trip secured various contracts at the territorial hospital and a janitorial contract with BHP Billiton.

"We generated a large amount of profit as a result of this trip," he said. "It's another example of Bob (Turner) misleading the auditors."

Paul said he was authorized to use the staff vehicle for personal use, and received permission from the board to take it home at night and drive it to Saskatchewan.

Election coming up

The alliance will go to the polls to choose from four people running for president, including Paul and Turner. Paul said that, if elected, his first priority will be to implement the recommendations in the audit.

"We need to begin rebuilding the alliance which has been somewhat torn down by the actions of a few."

"I don't know how much credibility we have left. I know we had credibility when I was in office."

Paul filed a wrongful dismissal case against the alliance, which is currently before the courts, after he was fired in December.

He said he plans to try to clear his name at a general meeting for the alliance on Thursday night at Northern United Place.