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Letter to the editor: A breach of public trust in Kings County


The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) has delivered its decision concerning the number of councillors and Polling Districts in the Municipality of the County of Kings.

Kings County chief administrative officer Tom MacEwan and lawyer Kevin Latimer prepare for the UARB hearing on proposed changes to Kings electoral boundaries.

The board rejected the Alternate 8 scenario presented to it by Kings municipal council and adopted in its stead the nine-district scenario recommended in the report submitted by Stantec.

The 35-page decision, supported by facts, analysis and findings, uncovers a very disturbing tampering with what should have been an open and truthful process. To understand the seriousness of this issue, see http://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nsuarb/doc/2016/2016nsuarb124/2016nsuarb124.html

When you look at the core values identified in the Code of Conduct for Elected Municipal Officials (integrity, honesty, objectivity, accountability, leadership), it would appear from the facts and findings that the warden, deputy warden and four councillors failed to uphold these values with regards to the creation and choosing the Alternate 8 scenario. As well, it would appear that the CAO has failed to respect these values. 

These same elected councillors voted to make the CAO, Tom MacEwan, the gatekeeper for Code of Conduct complaints. This decision should be overturned immediately due to the fact that the CAO has contravened the code he is supposed to oversee.

The CAO's actions documented in the NSUARB decision reveal a breach of public trust and interfere with an open and democratic process. This puts into question and taints all activities and actions carried out by the CAO. What has been disclosed may very well be the tip of the iceberg. Can the citizens trust that their interests in the Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use Bylaw documents are being respectfully represented? 

At the very least there should be a comprehensive external review of the CAO's conduct and management activities. 

In response to questioning from the board, Mr. MacEwan testified that this was his first attempt at developing a municipal boundary scenario. He had no prior experience, whatsoever, in conducting such an exercise. He left his private legal practice four years earlier to become the municipality's CAO...his first venture into municipal administration.

Will the citizens ever see responsible representative governance in Kings County or will closed, back room decisions continue without open debate to ensure that informed decisions are made? The big question is: do you, the citizens of Kings County want councillors you can trust and a mayor with strong leadership capabilities? Do you want elected representative councillors that will be loyal to and engaging with their constituents? We do have councillors of high calibre in the current council and we desperately need more to achieve good governance. Our opportunity to make that change is on Oct. 15, 2016.

 

 

Warren Peck

Black River Road

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