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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:59 am    Post subject: Wanted: Tory leader, no baggage in Nova Scotia Reply with quote

Wanted: Tory leader, no baggage

Tue. Feb 16 - 4:53 AM

TORY LEADERSHIP wannabes are dropping like flies.

Two high-profile candidates for the provincial party crown have fallen by their own hands in the past two weeks. One pulled out intentionally, the other self-imploded by mistake.

Neither Bill Black nor interim Tory leader Karen Casey had announced they were definite candidates in the race, which will be determined at an October leadership convention in Halifax.

But both have been seriously kicking the tires in recent months. And Casey has not said she is out of the game, but after disastrous positioning in the MLA expense scandal, she has probably damaged herself too much to mount a credible campaign.

Black, who finished second to Rodney MacDonald in the 2006 race, sent out an email to supporters Sunday evening stating he had decided against running, noting the eight- to 12-year commitment he believes is required is longer than he is willing to make.

The other reality, thanks to the expense uproar, is that an outside candidate will look increasingly attractive to the party. The level of public anger is unprecedented and with a forensic audit on expenses underway by auditor general Jacques Lapointe, there are likely to be more damaging revelations before the issue begins to cool off.

So any candidate who can claim no involvement during the recent years at Province House could enter the race with some immediate level of appeal.

All of this is to the benefit of one guy who really wants the job. Credit Union Atlantic president Jamie Baillie, former premier John Hamm’s chief of staff, has been organizing for some time and is lining up supporters in a bid to become the party’s next permanent boss.

The Truro native will position himself as a newcomer to elected politics, but his roots in the party run deep, dating back to his days as a Tory youth member in his hometown.

One of Casey’s major advantages over Black and Baillie — a seat in the legislature — has melted away, again thanks to the expense scandal. These days, the further away one might sit from the legislature, the better.

She made a huge error in not coming clean on former Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt’s television purchase, which, coupled with his $8,000 generator, marked the beginning of the end of his political career.

Casey was aware of the TV when Hurlburt apologized for the generator expense but did not share the information with the caucus or Nova Scotians, who at that point were hanging on every new revelation about the scandal.

While the caucus has professed confidence in her ability to remain as interim leader, her judgment has been severely questioned within and outside the party. A news release from Casey on Monday called on all MLAs to co-operate with information requests about expenses and reiterated her stand on the Hurlburt television that it is "the individual MLA’s responsibility to respond accordingly."

Casey may still be hoping to recover from the recent blows to remain a candidate.

All of this does not mean an easy waltz for Baillie, although his challenges are less mountainous than they were only a week ago. His political history is in the backrooms, not on the doorsteps, and he is completely unknown to the electorate.

Calls for an outsider will also make the race look more appealing for other contenders who may be sitting on the sidelines.

Former MP Bill Casey and former finance minister Neil LeBlanc, who also ran in 2006, might be tempted to take a second look, although both have earlier said they are not interested. And Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has the political clout to mount a strong campaign if he chooses to.

As far as the current crop of MLAs goes, the pickings are slim.

Argyle MLA Chris d’Entremont, the former health minister, is a possibility. The most politically talented among the group has inexperience and geography working against him. Newly elected Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster deftly displayed at the recent annual convention that he has more natural charisma in his baby finger than the rest of the potential contenders do put together. He has a future in politics if he wants it, but it will be awhile before he gets a turn at the brass ring.

Needless to say, party heavyweights are likely to be beating the bushes in the weeks ahead to try to bring some oomph to a race that is still in its infancy.

At the moment, there seem to be more people dropping off the list of possible contenders than jumping on.

These days, not too many folks are eyeing politics as an attractive career choice


Joined: 02 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt resigns
Article online since February 9th 2010, 14:19

Richard Hurlburt has resigned as MLA for Yarmouth. Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt resigns
By Tina Comeau



Richard Hurlburt has resigned as MLA for Yarmouth.

Hurlburt offered his immediate resignation to Progressive Conservative interim leader Karen Casey.

In a letter to Casey, Hurlburt stated: “It is with deep regret and sorrow that I advise I am tendering my resignation as MLA for Yarmouth and as a member of the Progressive Conservative Caucus."

His resignation is effective Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Casey expressed deep regret in losing Hurlburt, but has accepted the resignation.

“Richard Hurlburt has served this province, and more importantly, the people of Yarmouth passionately over the past 10 years,” said Casey. “I am hopeful that the people of Yarmouth will remember that.”

Hurlburt was first elected to the House of Assembly in July 1999. He was re-elected in 2003, 2006 and 2009. During his years in government he served as minister of Natural Resources, Economic Development and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Following last year's election Hurlburt went back to the Legislature as a member of the opposition after voters in Yarmouth stuck with their MLA, despite an orange NDP crush across the province that saw a majority NDP government elected. Hurlburt had easily defended his seat, outpacing NDP candidate David Olie, Liberal candidate David Mooney and Ronald Mills of the Green Party.

Before entering provincial politics, he was warden of the Municipality of Yarmouth.

Hurlburt entered provincial politics saying repeatedly he was there to fight for the riding of Yarmouth, and the people who live here. But an expense scandal over MLA expenses, in particular purchases made by Hurlburt, may have been too big a fight for Hurlburt to overcome. Angry, and even vicious, comments on media message boards and a Facebook page had been demanding he resign, saying he had lost the public's trust. Other comments were less flattering. Hurlburt's Facebook page was pulled off the web Tuesday afternoon.

Over the past few days, Hurlburt has been at the centre of a controversy over MLA expenses for an $8,000 generator he purchased that was installed in his home. Hurlburt said he had purchased the generator for the use of local groups, like ground search and rescue and EMO. He even suggested it could be used by seniors at a local seniors complex, although they already have a generator.

After first defending the purchase, last Friday he issued an apology for submitting an expense claim on an item that the auditor general had flagged as an inappropriate expense. Many people have questioned the amount paid for the generator.

On Monday it was revealed that Hurlburt had also purchased a $2,499 40-inch television for his constituency office, along with $579 in installation fees. In his report the auditor general had called that an excessive expense.

Unlike the way he had with the generator, Hurlburt had not stepped forward to identify himself as the purchaser of the big screen TV. His identify only became public on Monday a list identifying MLAs and their expenses was made public. The premier had asked that the list be released.

Hurlburt has reimbursed the Speaker's Office for both expenses.

Hurlburt is on vacation in Florida and could not be immediately reached by The Vanguard for comment.

Argyle MLA Chris d’Entremont, who has served in the Legislature with Hurlburt, expressed disappointment and surprise over Hurlburt’s resignation on Tuesday.

“It’s disappointing. I wish Richard would stick around, he’s been a really good MLA over the past 10 years, but at the same time with all of this stuff going on around us, I think he probably did the honourable thing,” said d’Entremont, who described Hurlburt as a good friend. D’Entremont said he doesn’t know what this means for the riding in the upcoming weeks and months. He said that will depend on Premier Darrell Dexter and when he decides to hold a by-election. D’Entremont said it would probably be best to hold off on having politicians knocking door-to-door for awhile.

“I don’t think it would matter who is going to the doors, they would probably hear the same thing,” he said.

D’Entremont, though, recognizes that there is a pressing issue facing Yarmouth – that being the fight to restore ferry service here.

“The ferry issue, for me that’s number one and that will be number one for quite some time until we can get them to reverse that decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, d’Entremont said he didn’t know that Hurlburt would be tendering his resignation. He said he had spoken to Hurlburt quickly on Monday.

“I talked to him just to tell him I would cover the riding for him while he was gone (on vacation) and if something came up he would call,” says the Argyle MLA. But d’Entremont says his conversation with Hurlburt occurred before the news of the television expense became public.

Trevor Cunningham, the president of the Yarmouth PC Association, also expressed disappointment over Hurlburt’s resignation.

“We’re disappointed, certainly, that Richard is no longer going to be MLA for Yarmouth because he’s fought really hard and worked really hard over the last 10-plus years to . . . do everything he could for Yarmouth. He’s been a real champion for Yarmouth, and to have it end on this note, under intense media scrutiny and so forth, it’s disappointing.”

Cunningham said certainly not today, nor tomorrow, but over the next number of weeks and months the local association will carry out a candidate search to see who will run for the Tories locally in a by-election. It has been a while since they’ve had to do this as Hurlburt has been their candidate for over a decade.

“My understanding is the premier has six months to identify a date, six months hence forth,” Cunningham said. When asked if he knew of Hurlburt’s intention to resign, Cunningham said he didn’t know the hour or the time, but he did know in advance of the announcement on Tuesday that Hurlburt had decided to step down.

When contacted Yarmouth Mayor Phil Mooney said given the challenge facing Yarmouth right now with the lack of ferry service and the fight to restore it, it will be a difficult time to be without an MLA for Yarmouth, but he said the area will be leaning a bit more on Argyle MLA Chris d’Entremont than they usually do, and he said that the area can still benefit from the contacts that Hurlburt has at the provincial and federal levels.

Asked whether he thinks Hurlburt did the right thing by resigning, the mayor said, “It’s a personal decision. I don’t know all the factors, you see what came out in the newspapers and what came out on TV and on the radio, there’s probably more things behind the scenes than just that one thing on his decision, I heard he was contemplating this for the last little while, even before this came out.

“He worked hard for 10 years and if he wants to call it a career, he’s done a lot of good things in Yarmouth and I wish him well.”

Meanwhile Hurlburt isn't leaving his job as MLA empty handed. He is eligible for an annual pension of $41,815.

Meanwhile, PC leader Karen Casey is also being criticized for withholding information about Hurlburt's expenses. She has confirmed that she knew Hurlburt was the purchaser of the television but she did not disclose the information before the list of expenses came out on Monday. She says it was not her intention to mislead the public, or withhold information from them. She believed it was up to individual members to step forward and make their admissions.

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Wanted: Tory leader, no baggage in Nova Scotia

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