HALIFAX, NS – Stephen McNeil’s Liberals don’t have to wait until next spring to take steps toward municipal government reform says Progressive Conservative MLA Karla MacFarlane.
The Pictou West MLA says the McNeil Liberals should stop dragging their feet and pass two proposed amendments to the Municipal Government Act that are before the House of Assembly right now.
The bills, introduced by MacFarlane, prohibit municipal politicians from expensing alcoholic beverages and require councils to disclose the compensation of employees earning more than $100,000 annually.
“The ongoing Richmond County scandal proves real reform is needed now,” said MacFarlane. “The Liberals want to wait until the spring before they begin talking about reform, but taxpayers expect action today. The McNeil Liberals might want to wait until the heat dies down, but that’s not good enough.”
MacFarlane is concerned any amendments brought forward by the Liberals in the spring may ultimately die on the order paper.
“There is a lot we need to do in order to make sure scandals like the one currently unfolding in Richmond County are not repeated, but a good start would be passing the two bills currently before the House of Assembly,” said MacFarlane. “It’s clear the McNeil Liberals just want this political problem to go away, but we won’t stop asking serious questions that require real answers.”
MacFarlane is willing to meet with Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill about potential amendments to the PC legislation that would see municipalities adopt online transparency rules.
Problems flagged by a forensic audit into Richmond County councillors and staff include potentially illegal political contributions to Liberal fundraisers, excessive food and alcohol purchases, spousal travel and hundreds of dollars spent at a Texas strip club.
Both the RCMP and Elections Nova Scotia are investigating Richmond County council.