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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peter Kelly is AWOL

Halifax mayor hasn't spoken publicly since Coast's expose.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 6:52 AM

Peter Kelly is Absent Without Leave. Ever since last Thursday’s Coast expose of Kelly’s problems with Mary Thibeault’s probate file (“A Trust Betrayed,” February 16), the Halifax mayor has refused to make himself public or to explain himself.

Our article detailed how Kelly is named executor of the estate valued at over a half million dollars; that seven years after her death, some of Thibeault’s heirs have not received any of the money they’re due; it questioned the accuracy of documents Kelly submitted to the probate court; and, illustrated with copies of cheques written to Kelly and his son, it explained how there is a dispute over $145,000 removed from Thibeault’s personal bank account after she had died.

click to enlarge Peter Kelly
  • Peter Kelly
Chronicle-Herald reporter Laura Faser tells me that since publication of The Coast article she called, texted or emailed Kelly “every half-hour” over four days, and finally took the extreme step of camping out, with a photographer, on the chairs just outside Kelly’s City Hall office, only to have security called to escort her out.

Other reporters say they have been similarly frustrated, with only cryptic messages coming via Kelly’s office staff that he “won’t be discussing personal matters,” i.e., his involvement with the Thibeault estate.

Probate is of course the exact opposite of a “personal matter”---the process of resolving a deceased person’s estate is purposefully public, so that anyone who cares to look knows that the estate was distributed responsibly, ethically, to the terms of the dead person’s will and in accordance with all applicable laws.

By Tuesday, local media were chomping at the bit at the opportunity to corner Kelly at his only publicly scheduled appearance for the week---Tuesday’s city council meeting.

But even though that meeting was the meatiest so far this year---with councillors deciding the framework for the upcoming budget debate, voting on the controversial plan for two 48-storey buildings in the heart of downtown and discussing the on-going transit strike---Kelly failed to show, leaving deputy mayor Bill Karsten to take over as chair.

“Over the seven years that I’ve been here, there’s only been a few times the mayor has missed a session,” Karsten told reporters.

Karsten said he received both an email and a phone call from the mayor’s staff at about 10:45am, just over two hours before the start of the 1pm meeting, saying Kelly would be absent. “My understanding, the official understanding, is that he has some outside meetings,” said Karsten. “That’s truly all I know.”

With Karsten at the helm, the meeting proceeded with something of a somber undertone.

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