Who are ‘we’ anyway?

In the August 5 edition of another local newspaper, an article refers to the demolition of a Central Avenue company house in Inverness.

The article begins by stating the house is planned to be removed by the Inverness municipality and then goes on to report comments by councillor Jim Mustard that the power company in charge was unable to disconnect the power.

A call to Nova Scotia Power quickly answered that any call where the owner or municipality requests power to be disconnected would be completed from the pole line, if required to make it safe.

Mustard then says that the property is used by The Little Red Wagon food truck (which is connected to the houses’ electrical). In a social media post in the past month, another food truck that was on the site stated that Mustard had evicted them from the lot and was renting to both vendors with the Red Wagon paying more for electrical hookup.

The county was never mentioned in the post as being the landlord or in control. If the county deemed the property dangerous and unsightly then should it not be allowing the public to enter the property? Should the electricity remain connected to a building that is open to the weather? There is also potential for trespassers to enter the building and cause harm to themselves or others as well as fire.

Mustard says the municipality has no set plans, insinuating that they are in control or have ownership. Then Mustard comments that his son is the owner. Who is responsible? As ratepayers, are we?

Throughout the article, Mustard uses the term “we.” Does he mean himself and the Little Red Wagon? Does he mean the municipality and he is speaking as a councillor representing the municipality? Does he mean him and his son? These are the questions that upon reading the article one is left with. The other questions are; is this a way of making money for the councillor who is getting rent from a food truck located on his son’s condemned property? Is this a way of the owner improving the lot at public expense, by having the county equipment do the work?

Mr. Mustard seems to be taking liberty with the fact that he is a municipal councillor and as such speaks for his district and Inverness County, thus when personal interests are involved, he should withdraw or be very clear.

In April 26, 2019 Mr. Mustard took it upon himself to write an e-mail to another jurisdiction in Nova Scotia apologizing for Inverness County council writing a letter of support to the premier supporting an extension of Boat Harbour which had a direct effect on jobs in Inverness County and the rest of Nova Scotia. In this case Mr. Mustard was not respecting the views and wishes of the council and the vote that had been taken in regular council April 4, 2019 (a meeting he was not in attendance for).

In the e-mail noted, Mustard was once again airing his own opinion as being that of council. In his April 26, 2019 e-mail, he included Warden MacQuarrie and councillor Cranton as being in agreement with him.

It is of note that no public report was made to council of this apology and change of mind from the councillors and Warden. Mr. Mustard also used his Breton Cannabis e-mail address to communicate with the recipient of this letter but introduces himself as an Inverness County councillor and speaks for the warden, etc.

The ratepayers of Inverness County are certainly left hanging for answers and from appearances, councillor Mustard could be in a contravention of section 5a of the Inverness County Code of Conduct:

“Conduct to be observed councillors are agents of the public whose primary objective is to address the needs of the citizens. As such, they’re entrusted with upholding and adhering to the by-laws of the municipality as well as all applicable provincial and federal laws. As public servants, councillors must observe a high standard of morality in the conduct of their official duties and faithfully fulfill the responsibilities of their offices, regardless of their personal or financial interests.”

Mr. Mustard was very quick to accuse fellow councillor John MacLennan with violating the Code of Conduct when Mr. MacLennan spoke with media about his letter to council asking for investigations into hiring practices and drinking water safety. Did Mustard feel speaking as a councillor he could talk about the derelict property as if it was a county property? Does using a Breton Cannabis e-mail to discuss municipal business create a smoke screen for political reasons? Perhaps now we need another “WE” investigation, Inverness County style, just like the feds. Who are we anyway?

Gerard Gillis