Mayor Clarke Takes Back the Port File?

When CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke began mulling a run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party back in December 2017, he appeared on the CBC’s Information Morning Cape Breton and was asked by host Steve Sutherland if a win would put progress on the Port of Sydney container terminal project in jeopardy. Clarke answered:

This last election was about finishing what I started on behalf of the citizens and that was with the wider port. I believe in the coming weeks, as was indicated with the trip to China, that people will see the outcomes and the benefit of our hard work, but I’ll leave it to our partners to be able to come and deliver that news themselves in the New Year.

“Our partners” did not come and deliver any news in the New Year (as the Spectator has been chronicling, our partner Albert Barbusci has been busy with his tree-climbing adventure parks in Florida) but Clarke nevertheless announced his candidacy for the leadership on 3 February 2018 and spent the next eight months pursuing it.

Any time he was asked about the port he said his work there was done and that it was all in the hands of the private sector developers.

Except, of course, for a mysterious June “Port Development Meeting” in an unnamed location that cost us $968.30 to fly him to:

Source: Mayor's expenses

Source: Mayor’s expenses  (Click to enlarge)


And it turns out that literally days after losing the provincial Tory leadership, Clarke went to Ottawa for another “Port Development Meeting”:


Source: Mayor's expenses

Source: Mayor’s expenses (Click to enlarge)


He left the convention on Saturday, October 27 and by Thursday, November 1 was back on the port file — even though he’d said eight months earlier, in no uncertain terms, that his work on that file was done.

I asked his spokesperson, Sheilah MacDonald, what this latest port development meeting was about and whether this means the mayor is once again heading the file. She told me in an email:

[W]hile the Port of Sydney is responsible for port development, the CBRM is supportive of their efforts. The Mayor travelled to Ottawa to show appropriate support of a development project.

Ohhhhhhh. I get it. He was traveling on the OTHER Port file. The one that involves the Sydney Marine Terminal and the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion and the second cruise ship berth. The one we established a port corporation with a $200,000/year CEO to look after. THAT Port file.

Of course.

So, questions of “appropriateness” aside, who did Clarke meet with in Ottawa? What did they discuss? Did Port CEO Marlene Usher also attend? Did either of them report to council? So many questions.

On the bright side, at least we know where he went this time — as opposed to that June meeting, the location of which he did not disclose.

I can’t believe I just wrote that last sentence.

What a town.






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