I FOIPOP’ed the CBRM and All I Got Was…

CBRM Coat of Arms

On 3 July 2015, I made a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) application to the clerk of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Deborah Campbell, requesting:

Any communications between Mayor Cecil Clarke or his communications staff or CAO Michael Merrit [sic] and Barry Sheehy and/or Albert Barbusci and/or Harbor Port Development Partners between December 1, 2013 and June 29, 2015.

As you can see, I spelled Michael Merritt’s name wrong. Perhaps that’s why the results of my FOIPOP application were so, for want of a better word, sad. Perhaps I should have given up after reading the clause in the agreement signed by the CBRM and HPDP on 16 June 2015 (see attached documents) which states that both parties agreed “not to disclose to any third party the terms and conditions of this agreement.”

But I pressed on with my request and a mere 104 days later received the documents I’m attaching here. Part of that time was needed to allow “third parties” whose “interests” might be “affected” by its release to determine what part of the requested information I was entitled to see. Those third parties were not, by an stretch of the imagination, over-sharers.

This odd little collection of documents is all that I — and by extension you, dear reader, and all citizens of the CBRM — are permitted to see. Remember that this period includes the 16 months during which Sheehy and Barbusci are apparently spending over $1 million of their own money to promote our port and are surely discussing this philanthropic venture with some higher-up in the CBRM.

It’s mostly a snoozefest (unless you’re actually interested in reading an article by Sheehy and his brother Matt on pilot-less planes or an article by Sheehy rehashing Mark Steyn’s views on the decline of America) but it is interesting to note that Sheehy was sending his Cape Breton Post op-ed pieces to Mayor Clarke and his spokesperson Christina Lamey before they appeared in the paper, including his November 14 op-ed, Sydney has ingredients for a world-class port“, which he presents as the views of a disinterested third party, a “come-from-away” who is more optimistic about the future of the Port of Sydney than is that “naysayer ” (and, let it be noted, port expert) Neil MacNeil.

The few emails included also show a mutual admiration society developing between Clarke and Sheehy. In one, dated March 11, 2015, Clarke writes to Sheehy and Barbusci regarding Sheehy’s recent CBC radio interviews (including, presumably, this March 10 interview with CBC Mainstreet’s Wendy Bergfeldt): “Huge thanks and kudos to both you gentlemen. I heard both interviews and they were bang on!”

Earlier, on 20 January 2015, Sheehy had sent the following fan mail to Clarke, a day after WestJet had announced it would offer daily flights between Sydney and Halifax:

Cecil, Congratulations on the new West Jet routes. This is a breakthrough for all of Cape Breton and I know it didn’t happen by accident. My hat’s off to the whole team who worked to bring this home. I would love to see the faces on the chronic “naysayers” at Tim Horton’s today.

There’s that word again, “naysayers,” only now it apparently means “anyone who wanted coffee and a donut” on 20 January¬† 2015.

Actually, of course, it means anyone who expresses skepticism about Sheehy’s grand plans for our port — skepticism that might be put to rest if we were actually, as CBRM citizens, privy to more details about Sheehy’s plans. Surely we count as “affected third parties” in this and, as such, have the right to more information.

This article first appeared on goCapeBreton.com.


FOIPOP.10.14.2015 HPDP development agreement June 1, 2015

HPDP development agreement June 1, 2015