I am writing in response to an article published in the November 16 edition of The Reporter entitled “Guysborough Warden wants apology from Inverness MLA.”
On October 8, I asked a question during Question Period about municipal expenses in Guysborough (the purchase of a briefcase). I was told we had information that would tell a similar story to the Ombudsman’s audit of the former Richmond Council’s spending practices.
On October 9, a second question was asked but had to be modified at the last minute because I discovered the practice of councillors receiving cash advances for travel outside of the county is permitted in some municipalities (see page 23 of the Richmond County audit: http://legcat.gov.ns.ca/articles/1069660.1665/1.PDF).
On October 10 another question was planned, but I chose not to ask it because I discovered the “evidence” was unfounded.
While I did see examples of municipal credit cards used for personal expenditure, those amounts are shown to have been paid back. There were expenditures for alcohol which also show to have been paid back (though I understand they are permitted in some cases under Guysborough policy). Ultimately, the information we had did not show the evidence it was supposed to contain. Citizens have had concerns, but any investigation is best left in the hands of the Department of Municipal Affairs and the provincial ombudsman.
I accept responsibility for asking the questions and I wish to apologize to CAO Barry Carroll, Warden Vernon Pitts and to all of the councillors and staff at the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. The question about the briefcase should not have been labeled an inappropriate expense, nor should the tone of the question have implied further wrongdoing. Making such accusations is certainly not the purpose for which I chose public service.
May this public apology restore any damage done to the reputations of those involved.
MLA for Inverness