1. Peter Kelly, again and again and again…
“A chartered accountant who spent eight years working in the office of P.E.I.’s auditor general said he was fired from his job with the City of Charlottetown in 2019 for raising concerns around financial irregularities, adherence to city bylaws and possible breaches of provincial law,” reports Kerry Campbell for the CBC:
“I believe my dismissal was retaliation for highlighting the significant number of problems at City Hall and [chief administrative officer Peter] Kelly’s incidents where he exceeded his authority,” Scott Messervey told council members in a letter dated Jan. 27, 2019.
CBC News has obtained a copy of that letter and related documents Messervey gave to council, some of which are included in a legal proceeding he has initiated against the city.
Messervey took on the job of deputy chief administrative officer for the City of Charlottetown in January 2018 and was fired by Kelly less than a year later.
After he was fired, he provided council members with a detailed list outlining 18 areas of concern where he said the city was either breaking its own financial rules or not complying with the province’s Municipal Government Act.
He also cited examples where he said his superior, Kelly, had exceeded his authority under the act – in some cases, according to Messervey, authorizing expenditures that could only be authorized by council.
He told council he had brought the various issues to Kelly’s attention and in response, Kelly fired him.
Messervey filed a complaint with council under the city’s whistleblower protection policy. According to the court record, the complaint never received a response.
After Messervey’s firing, the city went almost three years without hiring a replacement.
Tina Lococo, a lawyer who previously worked for the town of Midland, Ont., was finally hired in October 2021 as Charlottetown’s new deputy CAO.
Earlier this month, after six months on the job, she too was fired by Kelly, who told councillors in an email that he could not disclose the reasons why. The firing raised concerns among several councillors, none of whom would express those concerns publicly for fear of being sanctioned. In the same email this month, Kelly advised councillors not to speak to the media about the firing.
Among the issues raised in Messervey’s Jan. 27, 2019 letter to council:
- Messervey claimed capital cost overruns worth millions of dollars had been approved by the CAO when, under the terms of the Municipal Government Act, that spending required authorization from council.
- He pointed to a “large number of material errors” in the city’s audited financial statements, telling councillors these were examples of instances in which the CAO had ignored the advice of finance staff. For two consecutive years, in 2017 and the 2018-19 fiscal year, the city received qualified audit opinions from its auditors, in essence a declaration from the audit firm that it could not vouch for the material accuracy of the city’s stated surplus or its cash flow position. The 2017 audit flagged more than a dozen errors in the city’s financial reporting.
- Messervey said tendering for police ticketing software was done outside the city’s tendering process, and no record of the tenders could be found in the files of the finance department. He said councillors had been given incorrect information on which bid came in lowest.
- Messervey raised concerns about meal expenses and per diems claimed by councillors and staff. He said per diems were claimed at events where meals were already included in the cost. He also pointed to a meal expensed at the Dundee Arms restaurant in December 2018, attended by some current and former council members, their spouses and one member of staff. Messervey said all charges, including spousal meals, alcohol and the $160 tip, were originally expensed to the city’s finance department, with the meal classified as a finance meeting. He said costs for alcohol and some but not all spousal meals were recovered. He said the expensing of meals in this way constituted “a reputational risk for the city.”
Since Kelly was hired by the city of Charlottetown, I’ve been contacted every few months by people who wanted me to investigate his handling of finances and personnel issues with the city. I went to PEI once to meet with someone with personal knowledge of the situation, and I even went to a Charlottetown council meeting. Another time, I met with someone else here in Halifax who had concerns. But I’m stretched thin as it is here in Nova Scotia, and it’s a three and a half hour drive one way to Charlottetown, plus the tolls. Besides, I get angry that he keeps inserting himself into my work life — so I had to pass on more Peter Kelly reporting and leave it to others. I’m glad Campbell is taking the torch.
But no one should be surprised at any of this. Kelly’s entire career — from mayor of Bedford to Halifax mayor to Westlock CAO to Charlottetown CAO — has been characterized by charges of financial impropriety, staffing irregularities, and worse.
For new readers, here’s just some of my reporting on Kelly:
How Halifax’s concert scandal played out
A trust betrayed: Peter Kelly and the estate of Mary Thibeault
Peter Kelly screwed over Westlock County, Alberta
Peter “Irregular Matter” Kelly’s reign of error in Westlock County, Alberta
What bothers me the most about this scandal machine isn’t Kelly himself, but rather the voters and politicians who continually give him a pass on his misdeeds and put him in position to do it again over and over again. Don’t Westlock, Alberta and Charlottetown, P.E.I. have Google? Why would you hire a man who’s been exposed by multiple 20,000-word articles detailing his antics?
The very day I first laid eyes on Kelly, I knew he was a mendacious grifter. But Kelly wraps himself in this ah-shucks, pitter-patter demeanour, shovelling greasy fries at John’s Lunch on Good Friday and winning over old ladies he visits at nursing homes who think he’s the cat’s meow, when they should be watching their pocketbooks. And people fall for it, time and again.
I despair that my fellow citizens are so credulous.
2. Health care plan
The Houston government rolled out its long-awaited health care plan Friday before a room full of yawning reporters — the plan is a big nothing burger, with no hard policy goals, no metrics, no timelines, no new money. You can read it yourself.
I spent all weekend reading the latest batch of documents released by the Mass Casualty Commission, and then all night last night writing about them. The documents are embargoed until they’re tabled today at around 9:30 or so, and that’s when we’ll publish my report.
I can say this now: today’s public proceedings are focused on the killer’s fake police car, and how the RCMP reacted to it during the murder spree. I’ve already reported on much of what will be released today — Cst. Heidi Stevenson’s request that the public be warned about the fake car, for instance — but there are new details that should be considered.
Still, I chose not to focus on the fake police car in my article. That’s all I can say right now.
The inquiry meets publicly today, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I’ll be live-tweeting the proceedings on my Twitter feed.
People keep dying from COVID:
The 13 deaths this past week by age group were:
0- 49 — 1
50- 64 — 2
65+ — 10
The 84 people hospitalized that week by are group are:
Under 18 — 6
18 -49 — 8
50- 64 — 14
65+ — 56
There have been 1,641 COVID cases and 40 COVID deaths in long-term care since December.
Despite the rising number of new cases, “after several weeks of increases, the data suggests we may have hit the peak of the wave when it comes to new COVID-19 infections,” said Dr. Shelley Deeks. Nova Scotia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health.
I have no idea why she should think that.
We are now in what Katherine Wu calls the So What? Wave of COVID. Yes, lots of people are going to die, but they’re mostly elderly, so no one much cares, at least not enough to continue with even the bare minimum efforts of stopping the spread of the virus, like even properly tracking it or wearing masks indoors.
Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am) — virtual meeting
Board of Police Commissioners (Monday, 12:30pm) — virtual meeting
Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm) — virtual meeting
North West Community Council (Monday, 6pm) — virtual meeting
Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Progress Reports on the Implementation of the Canada-Wide Child Care Agreement and the Excellence in ECE Strategy (Tentative) & Agency, Board and Commission Appointments; with representatives from the Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development, MSVU, and the Association of Early Childhood Educators of NS.
NOTE: If the House of Assembly is still sitting on April 26, the committee will meet only to consider appointments to ABCs, and the witnesses will be deferred to May 31.
PhD thesis defence, Community Health and Epidemiology (Monday, 12pm, online) — Roah Merdad will defend “Opioid Prescribing Patterns and Prolonged Opioid Use in Opioid-Naive Adults After Surgical and Emergency Care in Nova Scotia”
PhD thesis defence, Microbiology and Immunology (Tuesday, 10am, online) — Karla Valenzuela will defend “Shigella Flexneri Requires the Host Scaffold Protein Rack1 to Modulate Actin Polymerization, Promoting Infection”
Visibility Matters: Representation of Lesbian Communities in Archives (Tuesday, 12pm, online) — special panel discussion in recognition of Lesbian Visibility Day. The panel will be moderated by Jacquie Gahagan, founder of the NS LGBT Seniors Archive. Panelists include Meredith Batt, Anne Bishop, Elinor Crosby, Rachel Moore, and Denyse Rogrigues.
The Town Of Vichy and the Politics of Identity: Stigma, Victimhood and Decline (Tuesday, 12pm, Room LI135, Patrick Power Library and online) — SMU Library Faculty Author Series, with Kirrily Freeman
This book explores the contours of civic identity in the town of Vichy, France. Over the course of its history, Vichy has been known for three things: its thermal spa resort; its products (especially Vichy water and Vichy cosmetics); and its role in hosting the État Français, France’s collaborationist government in the Second World War. This last association has become an obsession for the residents of Vichy, who feel stigmatized and victimized by the widespread habit of referring to France’s wartime government as the “Vichy regime.” This book argues that the stigma, victimhood, and decline suffered by Vichyssois are best understood by placing Vichy’s politics of identity in a broader historical context that considers corporate, as well as social and cultural, history.
COVID restrictions in effect; register for the event to receive a link to the recorded presentation
Mexico’s failure to protect the vaquita porpoise: the USMCA’s first environmental test (Tuesday, 1pm) — online event; from the listing:
The vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, is on the verge of extinction. Scientists estimate there are fewer than 10 left in the world. In February, the United States requested consultations under the USMCA trade agreement’s environment chapter related to the vaquita, the prevention of illegal fishing in Mexico, and the related trafficking of totoaba fish. Then on April 11, a key USMCA environmental body recommended a formal investigation into Mexico’s failure to comply with its fishing and wildlife trade laws.
Hear from experts about the critically endangered vaquita, the threats to its survival and habitat, including from illegal activity, and the USMCA trade agreement process to save the vaquita and hold Mexico accountable for its environmental commitments.
The Art of Global Encounters in the Early Modern Period (until Friday, The Link, New Academic Building, and online ) — this exhibition
is centered upon selected works of art that are products of cross-cultural exchange and aesthetic hybridity. Each submission raises important questions about the visual cultures of colonialization, marginalization, and cultural appropriation, fetishization and the exotic, ambassadorial missions and the role of the court as a site of exchange, and the reception of Western science in the East.
I’m off to the inquiry, so short Morning File today. Plus, I’ve been working on something else entirely that might come out today, we’ll see.