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.


There’s Cecil

Cecil was easy to find this week.

He was in the Cape Breton Post and the Truro News and the Chronicle Herald (and maybe other papers in the Saltwire Network but I got tired of searching them) on Tuesday, declaring himself ready for the Tory convention at the end of this month.

I’m not sure what that means. That he’s packed? That he’s booked the Shuttle? That he’s sent in his list of dietary requirements? Wouldn’t the alternative — that he didn’t feel in any way ready for the convention and his stomach was doing flips at the mere mention of the word “ballot” — be more of a news story? I think the answer is “Yes,” given that he lost the front page of the print edition to a story about a snapping turtle who is not even a candidate.

This, in short,  is advertising money can’t buy.

Actually, let me rephrase that, this is advertising money could — and probably should — buy but is being handed out like Halloween candy to our mayor by our local daily (and its sister papers). As Tim Bousquet would say, no wonder advertising revenues are in the crapper. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Post reporter David Jala asked the question that’s been on the minds of all CBRM residents since their mayor announced he wanted a better job: Any regrets?  And what do you know, Clarke has none. Collecting a mayor’s salary for eight months while running for the leadership of provincial PCs has suited him to a tee:

“It’s been very busy, but it’s gone extremely well — we’ve been criss-crossing the province, burning up the phone lines and doing everything possible we can do with both traditional campaigning and now the new era of social media and online campaigning,” said Clarke, who added his municipal experience has given his campaign an entirely different perspective.

Jala then actually did ask a question that has been on my mind, anyway: If you win the leadership, will you quit as mayor?

“On the basis of winning, I will have to make all kinds of tough decisions, but whatever I do I will make responsible decisions.”

When asked to be more definitive, Clarke reiterated earlier comments that he has committed to 51 (the number of provincial seats in the Nova Scotia legislature) constituency and policy forums.

“That’s a lot of travel and meetings — you do the math,” he suggested, with a twinkle in his eye.

Jala makes Clarke sound like Santa.

And do I have to be the cranky-drawers who points out the obvious? Clarke just told you he “criss-crossed the province” during the campaign — in other words, he attended meetings in 51 constituencies. (He had to, they all get an equal say in the choice of leader.) That being the case, do you really think the prospect of “a lot of travel and meetings” will dissuade him from remaining mayor for another year (or two) if that’s what he wants to do?

I don’t.

Now, I wonder if the Post will give each of the other four candidates an equal opportunity to twinkle?


The party that votes together…

Clarke hosted “ballot parties” (but not rallies this time, apparently) on Saturday in Baddeck, Monday in North Sydney and Tuesday at the East Bay Legion.

He had to be in town anyway to chair the irregular monthly council meeting, the date and time of which I believe are now being determined by throwing darts at a calendar. Or maybe the third Monday of the month at 1:30 in the afternoon (so convenient for councilors and members of the general public who work) is now a thing. I’ve given up trying to keep track.

I still find this idea of Clarke campaign volunteers helping people mark their ballots really odd — especially when the come-on sounds like this:

Volunteers will be on-site to answer your questions, photocopy your identification or help you with the process.

I’d lock my wallet in the dash of the car before I’d let some rando volunteer photocopy my identification, but perhaps Progressive Conservatives are just naturally more trusting than I am.



I’m just going to shut up and let you make up your own mind about what Clarke has to say about inclusion in our province’s education system:


Labor negotiations

Ditto for labor negotations.

No, wait, I can’t help myself. I have to say one thing: cutting jobs by attrition does not require negotiating skills. All it takes is the ability not to hire someone to fill a vacancy. “I’m excellent at not hiring people,” bragged no one, ever.

Okay, that’s my two cents’ worth.



I’ve added the “Ballot Parties.”

Sadly, there’s no way to adequately track hours spent “criss-crossing the province” let alone time spent “burning up the phone lines.”




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