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.

As you will recall, the mayor of the CBRM declared his candidacy for the PC leadership on February 3. Tories will choose their new leader at the very end of October. So Clarke — who is paid $109,754 a year as our municipality’s only “full-time” elected official — intends to spend roughly eight months doing double duty as a mayor/PC leadership candidate.

We know, because CBRM Human Resources told us so, that the department does not track the vacation time of the mayor, whose only constraint is apparently Section 17(4) of the MGA:

A mayor or councillor who, without leave of the council, is absent from three consecutive regular meetings of the council, ceases to be qualified to serve as mayor or as a councillor.

Mayor Clarke, then, is presumably tracking his time off based on his own estimate (shared with CBC radio listeners back in December 2017) that he has over 20 weeks’ vacation stockpiled.


Doing lunch

Having cleared the decks in Sydney by packing a regional council meeting, a special council meeting, two in-camera council meetings and a tri-council meeting (with Eskasoni and Membertou) into Monday and Tuesday, Clarke hit the road on Wednesday.

First stop: Port Hawkesbury, for a campaign lunch and a photo op with two former Port Hawkesbury mayors, Almon Chisholm and Billy Joe MacLean (or as one Facebook commentator labeled them, “3handsome Tories,” making them sound like a ’50s doo-wop group).



Clarke the PC leadership candidate carried on to Halifax on Thursday for a mental health workshop, sponsored by CARP NS.

CARP, according to its website, was “formerly the Canadian Association for Retired People” but has opted to go with the acronym, unattached to any actual words, the better to be confused with the act of complaining and a bottom-feeding freshwater fish. (One last CARP fun fact: the current national president is Moses Znaimer of City TV and MuchMusic fame.)

The workshop coincided with CARP NS’s AGM and both were held at the Hotel Atlantica.


Mayor or Leadership Candidate? You Choose!

But Clarke the mayor of the CBRM was also in Halifax on Thursday to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) 2018 Annual Conference and Trade Show, which ran from May 31 to June 3 at the new, “state-of-the-art” Halifax Convention Centre.

(The theme for this year’s convention was “Tools for Tomorrow’s Canada,” which the snickering 12-year-old who forever resides inside me finds really funny. I’m not proud of that.)

On Friday, June 1, CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke attended an appreciation breakfast hosted by the council of Wood Buffalo, Fort McMurray. Wood Buffalo wished to thank the CBRM for its assistance during the Fort McMurray fires of 2016.

I only know about this breakfast because of a Facebook post by District 10 Councilor Darren Bruckschwaiger, which was brought to my attention by Spectator reader Wayne O’Toole. (O’Toole captured the post in a screen grab, which is a good thing, because I can’t see it on Bruckschwaiger’s FB page although he assures me it’s still there.)


O’Toole’s purpose in sharing the photos was to point out an interesting presence at the breakfast table — Hunter Bettens, son of Clarke’s executive assistant Mark Bettens.

Bettens Junior is not an employee of the CBRM (I confirmed this). I asked Joyce McDougall of Clarke’s campaign if he was employed by the Clarke leadership campaign but as of press time, I had not received a response.

But if Hunter Bettens is part of Clarke’s leadership campaign and Clarke brought him along to a breakfast he was attending in his capacity as CBRM mayor, then the firewall between mayoral duties and campaign leadership activities has clearly been fashioned from oily rags.

(There was a further development in this story, which you can read about in my coverage of Tuesday night’s CBRM general committee meeting.)


Victoria-The Lakes

Saturday night found Clarke at the Victoria-The Lakes PC association dinner and auction, which I classify as a campaign event, because — I know you’ll find this hard to believe — political parties are not (officially) involved in politics at the municipal level in Nova Scotia, and attending a Progressive Conservative party fundraiser is not a duty associated with being mayor of the CBRM:

Presumably, he had to miss most of the Saturday FCM sessions to get back to Cape Breton in time for this event.


Meet & Greet

Interestingly, Clarke was not only back in Halifax on Sunday, June 3, he was back at the Hotel Atlantica, where he hosted another meet and greet for Haligonians wishing to “hear his vision” for Nova Scotia. (Six people had RSVPed as of Sunday at 11:24 AM, although one particularly excited Clarke supporter had RSVPed twice.)

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you to June, a month during which I predict Clarke sightings in the CBRM will be so rare, people will call the CBC Information Morning Cape Breton bird hour to report them.


Mini Debate

According to the Hants County West PC Association Facebook page:

All five PC Leadership Candidates will be at the Hants County War Memorial Community Centre for a mini debate, and Meet and Greet Thurs 7 Jun.



Here’s the updated campaign calendar, I’ve added the mental health workshop, the Victoria -the-Lakes dinner and auction, and the Hants County mini debate: