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Former Liberal MLA Hugh MacKay pleads not guilty to second impaired driving charge

Nova Scotia MLA Hugh MacKay is seen on Nov. 29, 2017. File

A member of the Nova Scotia legislature who has already pleaded guilty to impaired driving entered a plea of not guilty to a second charge in a separate incident.

Hugh MacKay, the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret’s, was supposed to have his case before the Halifax provincial court on March 16, but his lawyer was in court Thursday morning to enter an early plea.

MacKay was not present, the court confirmed.

READ MORE: N.S. MLA Hugh MacKay releases statement amid impaired driving allegations

The former Liberal and now independent MLA was charged with impaired driving last month in connection with an incident in Upper Tantallon in November 2018.

The allegations ended up on the floor of the legislature last week after Opposition Leader Tim Houston tabled a partially-redacted email from a former member of the Chester-St. Margaret’s Liberal Riding Association.

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Houston claimed the Liberals were trying to “cover up” allegations in the email, which accuses MacKay of driving dangerously between streets in New Ross, before travelling to Upper Tantallon and crashing his vehicle into a light pole.

The former association member, whose name wasn’t released, said MacKay had a bottle of open liquor in the vehicle and refused to pull over for over two hours.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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Premier Stephen McNeil has insisted he didn’t know about the allegations because his chief of staff, who was made aware of the email in May 2019, decided it wasn’t necessary to inform him.

In a statement last week, MacKay said he continues to “aggressively seek treatment” for his alcohol addiction.

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He also claimed that his disease is being “exploited for partisan political purposes,” adding that the matter should be settled in the courts, not the legislature.

READ MORE: N.S. premier says chief of staff knew of allegations against former Liberal MLA for months

MacKay says he will continue to sit as an independent.

His pre-trial conference is scheduled to go ahead in June.

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