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Mayor Peter Kelly 

A career politician, Kelly knows the ins and outs of the political process. He's proven that when he wants something---think fast tracking of the proposed fast ferry to Bedford---he knows how to use the system to get it. Moreover, he really is something of a populist, in that he generally wants his actions to reflect the public will.

But he's not just politically cautious, he's politically comatose. For example, he confusedly courted Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa and dithered and ducked making a decision for so long that when he finally came out in opposition to the establishment of a local GA chapter, it made no difference whatsoever.

More to the point, if any one person is to blame for the Commonwealth Games fiasco, it's Kelly; not because he initiated the effort (he didn't), but rather because once he bought into it, he didn't stay atop the process and he let city administrator Dan English run roughshod over him, keep him in the dark. The Commonwealth Games was to be the biggest public-works project in Halifax's history and the acting mayor utterly failed to monitor it, even in a cursory manner. When it came time to kill the bid effort, Kelly still couldn't act decisively. It took premier Rodney MacDonald to take leadership on the issue. And MacDonald played the HRM perfectly, shifting public displeasure over the effort to council and Kelly and off the premier.

Bold, decisive action can lead to disaster, but the opposite---catatonic inaction---is just as bad.

Grade: D His Worship's phone: 490-4010

WHAT WE SAID LAST YEAR 2007 (Grade: D)

"And finally, our councillor extraordinaire. Kelly does his best to try to hold things together during contentious council meetings, which must sometimes seem like a full- time job in itself. His right-move-handled-the-wrong-way decision to pull out of the Commonwealth Games hurt relations with many councillors, and the damage has not completely healed."

"When it comes to mayor Kelly, especially on the eve of an election year, here’s our biggest concern: after seven years on the job, the vision of Halifax that the mayor spoke of in 2000 has not materialized. In the past, Kelly campaigned on the idea of bringing light rail to Bedford, a service that he ultimately has not been able to deliver because of problems working with CN. But it remains a promise undelivered. A few weeks ago, at a speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Kelly again spoke of “his vision for a prosperous, growing and vibrant HRM where our quality of life is the envy of the country.” He mentioned specifically his dream to establish a new Halifax art & culture centre (despite the city’s mismanagement of the Khyber building over the past two years), as well as a new sporting and convention complex. Kelly insisted afterwards it was not an early campaign speech. It sure sounded like one."

"However, this is not a new upstart campaigner anymore. He’s already had seven years on the job. Kelly’s vision doesn’t match the reality of HRM, and by now, it should."

"Remarks: At last count, Kelly is still a hugely popular mayor. He nabbed 80 percent of the popular vote in 2004, despite the fact that his image as the uniting leader of the HRM has never really come to fruition. The city is desperately hungry for some fresh ideas and strong leadership from the mayor’s office, and if Kelly can’t deliver, it might be time for Halifax to elect a new rebel."

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Vol 24, No 28
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