Last week, council declined to ask the RCMP to investigate the scandal, and council Tuesday refused to slap Kelly with a one-week suspension. Councillor Sue Uteck had given notice that she wanted the suspension debated next week, but a council majority rushed the motion so it could be dispensed with quickly; the motion failed on a 17-3 vote, with only Darren Fisher and Jim Smith joining Uteck. Collectively, council seems to want to deal only with the rather obscure bureaucratic changes recommended by auditor general Larry Munroe, by shuffling them off to council’s audit committee, and otherwise letting bygones be bygones.
Councillors express a range of opinions as to why they voted against the motion. Some fully support Kelly, while others think the motion was inappropriately rushed and needed more study. But whatever their reasons, the bottom line is the political leadership has decided there will be no accountability whatsoever for wrongdoing on the part of the mayor.
“That’s it,” says Uteck. “You know what, if [Kelly] blows a million dollars, whatever, it’s not my issue. Council won’t do anything about it, there’s no accountability, why should I try?”
Still, the scandal won’t go away. A group of citizens is planning a protest before next week’s council meeting; see the “Peter Kelly -- Resign Now” Facebook page for details.
And new revelations about the scandal will continue to come out. Munroe has promised a follow-up to his initial report, looking specifically at the management of the Metro Centre, and a bevy of reporters is continuing to investigate the scandal. Council’s audit committee will take up the issue as soon as next Monday.
But so far, only one person has suffered any consequences whatsoever for the concerts scandal. After a specially called closed-door council meeting in March, top bureaucrat Wayne Anstey announced his immediate retirement, but Anstey was planning to retire in the summer anyway, and he will receive full benefits. The other people in City Hall named in Munroe’s report---Peter Kelly and retired CAO Dan English---have paid no price for their involvement.
Munroe also named two people at Trade Centre Limited. But former president Fred MacGillivray appears to be untouchable, happily collecting his hefty $1.2 million pension, and current president Scott Ferguson has not only suffered no consequences for what was clearly wrong-doing on his part, but has even been praised by Percy Paris, the minister overseeing Trade Centre.
Democratic accountability? Not in Nova Scotia.