Whalley vs CBRM Postponed to August

John Whalley

John Whalley

Former CBRM economic development officer John Whalley’s civil suit against the municipality for constructive dismissal has been postponed to August.

Whalley, who is represented by Blair Mitchell of Halifax, told the Spectator they requested the delay because his only witness, former CBRM CAO Jerry Ryan, was unable to attend court this week.

The case is now on the Supreme Court docket for August 20-24, according to the Prothonotary.

Whalley quit his job at the CBRM on 30 May 2015, taking CBRM councilors by surprise as CTV reported at the time. His departure came just days before what Mayor Cecil Clarke was billing as a big announcement regarding the port. That announcement, made 3 June 2015, was that the CBRM planned to purchase land in the Sydport Industrial Park from East Coast Metal Fabrication (ECMF) and Sydport Operations Inc (SOI) for $1.2 million and lease it to Point Edward Marine, a newly established subsidiary of McKeil Marine.

The Cape Breton Post reported in detail on Whalley’s notice of action, filed on 20 May 2016:

On May 25, 2015, Whalley and other individuals, not  identified in the notice, are alleged to have expressed concern regarding advice being received from the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs.

The department’s comments were in relation to the municipality acquiring certain additional lands for the port.

Whalley is also to have expressed concern that an individual, not identified in the notice but who was also working on the land acquisition, may have been in a conflict of interest.

Three days later, Whalley was called into the office of regional Chief Administrative Officer Michael Merritt and told he was being reassigned away from the port file.

He was told he was being moved to a project that had no council approval and no budget.

On May 30, Whalley tendered his resignation.

The suit claims Whalley was never given any opportunity to respond to the decision to move him away from the port file and that action of the municipality amounted to a breach of his employment contract.

I’m not sure which “individual” working on the McKeil deal Whalley was thinking of, but one look at the sales contract between the CBRM and the sellers shows you a possible candidate: lawyer Jim Gogan of Breton Law Group, who represented all three parties to the deal:

Contact information from contract between East Coast Metal Fabrication, Sydport Operations and the CBRM.

Contact information from contract between East Coast Metal Fabrication, Sydport Operations and the CBRM.


Victoria Rees, director of professional responsibility for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, told me earlier that it’s not unusual for a lawyer to represent multiple parties in a real estate transaction, that it’s called a joint retainer and is subject to certain rules. But as I said then, it seems unnecessary for the CBRM to have retained Gogan as a lawyer when it has a municipal solicitor who is, in fact, listed as the contact for the CBRM on the lease agreement with McKeil.

Presumably the CBRM will share its thinking on this matter during the trial.

Whalley is seeking damages for pay in lieu of notice, special damages, pre-judgement interest and costs.

You can refresh your memory on the details of the McKeil deal here:







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