Where’s Cecil?

Welcome to this week’s installment of “Where’s Cecil?” my ongoing effort to keep track of Mayor Cecil Clarke’s campaign appearances to judge just how much time he’s taking from his day job to travel the province in pursuit of the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.

I’m focusing on events scheduled for weekdays during business hours or out-of-town events that would require travel on weekdays during business hours.

(For the record: no sign of Mayor Clarke’s first quarter expenses yet on the CBRM website and we are now almost a month beyond the end of the first quarter.)


Kings West

Mayor Clarke hasn’t announced any meet and greets for this week, but the organizers of the Kings West PC Annual Dinner say all the leadership candidates have confirmed they will attend this year on Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 PM.

The dinner will be held at the Berwick Heights Golf Course, so presumably Clarke will be traveling on Thursday. Will he come back to the CBRM on Friday? Your guess is as good as mine. But he’s been known to take Fridays off and he’s been busy campaigning most every weekend.



Speaking of campaigning every weekend, that’s the best segue I could come up with for this picture, taken Saturday afternoon at the Second Annual Cumberland North PC Association pig roast. I’m thinking I should have a New Yorker-style caption contest for this:

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Cecil Clarke. (Source: Facebook)

Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Cecil Clarke. (Source: Facebook)



On April 23, PC leadership candidate and Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin issued the following statement:

“Last month, I offered to relinquish my duties as Progressive Conservative critic for Health and Wellness to interim PC Leader Karla MacFarlane and PC House Leader Chris d’Entremont to allow me to focus more time on my leadership campaign. At their request, and with the advice of my leadership campaign co-chairs, I agreed to continue to serve as an official opposition critic, at least until the conclusion of the spring sitting of the House of Assembly.

“Now that the House is done for the spring, I would like to focus all of my energy on the leadership campaign while fulfilling my responsibilities to the people of Cumberland North as their MLA. I am also looking forward to meeting with Nova Scotians who have faced racism to learn more and gain a greater understanding and appreciation for their lived experiences.

“I am therefore stepping away as Progressive Conservative Health and Wellness critic, as well as from my committee assignment.

“I will continue to be an active Progressive Conservative MLA for the people of Cumberland North,  and I will use the leadership campaign as an opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians and share my agenda for a healthier, more prosperous, more progressive province.”

The reference to meeting “Nova Scotians who have faced racism” is, of course, an upshot of Smith-McCrossin’s unfortunate recent remarks about Jamaicans and pot.

I am not a political pundit, but it seems fair to wonder if Smith-McCrossin’s decision was entirely Smith-McCrossin’s decision. According to two actual pundits — or leg reporters playing pundits, the CBC’s Jean Laroche and Michael Gorman — the question of doctor recruitment is likely to remain in the headlines even if the House is no longer sitting, which means the PC’s healthcare critic will also be in the headlines. Is it really that much of a stretch to think the party doesn’t want those headlines to include any mention of comments activist El Jones has decried as “unacceptable?”

On the other hand, it is possible that the duties of healthcare critic would require more time than McCrossin-Smith can commit while running a leadership campaign.

The question then becomes, should her fellow MLA opponents give up their critics’ duties and committee work to concentrate on their leadership campaigns? Kings North MLA John Lohr is critic for agriculture; fisheries and aquaculture; immigration; and labor relations. Pictou East MLA Tim Houston is responsible for finance; Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation; and regulatory affairs and service effectiveness. To my knowledge, neither has abdicated his post, although I stand to be corrected.

More to the point, given this is the “Where’s Cecil?” column, if you can’t adequately perform an MLA’s critic and committee duties while running for the leadership, can you run the second-largest municipality in the province?