Former Mayor Peter Kelly. Photo: Tim Bousquet
Former Mayor Peter Kelly. Photo: Tim Bousquet

Peter Kelly has found a job. The former mayor is now working at a pest control company owned by his former employee, Stephen Taylor. Residents say Kelly has shown up at their apartment buildings donned in protective gear and carrying a tank, spraying for bugs.

Taylor has long been a dedicated supporter of Kelly. Taylor worked as manager for Kelly’s reelection campaign in 2008, and then was hired on to manage the mayoral office itself. Taylor has also contributed financially to Kelly’s campaigns, $2,239.50 in 2008 and $759.80 in Kelly’s aborted 2012 campaign—Kelly dropped out of the 2012 race after my investigative piece on his improper handling of the Mary Thibeault estate was published.

Taylor, for his part, left his mayoral office manager position in 2011, and in November of that year registered a new company with the province: Target Pest Control. A few months later, he announced that he himself was running in the 2012 election, for the council seat for Sackville. I interviewed him a month before the election. “I’ll cut through the bullshit, Tim,” he told me. “This city has some severe leadership problems.” That sure sounded like deep criticism of his former boss Peter Kelly, but maybe it was simply empty sloganeering, as Taylor did not mention Kelly on his campaign website—neither positively nor negatively nor even that Taylor had worked for Kelly.

Taylor lost to businessman Steve Craig, and Taylor hasn’t been heard from in local political scenes since. Kelly, however, has been rumoured to be angling for various federal appointments, but with no luck. Last November, he told the Chronicle Herald that he had started a consulting business, but gave no specifics about who he was consulting; so far as I’m aware, his name hasn’t been seen on city development applications. This March, Halifax Magazine reported that Kelly has been approached by a publisher to write a book.

But about the same time Kelly was talking to Halifax Magazine, Taylor’s company, the Sackville-based Target Pest Control, bought out competitor Borden Pest Control, also based in Sackville. “This would mean more jobs would be created in Halifax,” Taylor wrote in the company blog, employing much the same feel-good language used by politicians everywhere. And indeed, just a few weeks later, Taylor announced he had hired someone named Joe Stepaniak as a technician.

In response to my call for confirmation, Taylor today released a statement saying he had hired Kelly.

There’s nothing shameful or belittling about working as a pest control technician. It’s a honourable job doing socially useful work that can make people’s lives better. But it’s hard to understand why Kelly, who holds an executive MBA and of course has considerable experience in politics and the bureaucracy, would settle for a blue collar position. After all, he’s pulling in $70,000 annually from his city hall pension, which seems more than enough to tide him over between jobs.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Tim, when did city staff unilaterally stop enforcing the pesticide protection bylaw (without the consent of council)? Was it while Stephen Taylor was still the Mayor’s Chief of Staff? That would be an interesting connection, to see that such a decision was made around the same time a key member of city staff strikes out on their own to create a company that directly benefits by removing public health protections from pesticides.

  2. I just read somewhere else that he is a new partner of Target Pest Control, perhaps he is learning the business from the ground up