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Former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly is fired from Charlottetown City Hall role

Click to play video: 'Global News Morning Halifax: May 12' Global News Morning Halifax: May 12
The online edition of Global News Morning with Paul Brothers and Alyse Hand on Global Halifax – May 12, 2022

A former Halifax mayor who left office in 2012 amid controversy has been dismissed as chief administrative officer in Charlottetown following accusations he fired senior staff after they brought up issues about financial irregularities at the city.

Peter Kelly was terminated after an 8-3 vote at a special council meeting Wednesday night in the Prince Edward Island capital. Council voted to fire Kelly “without cause,” according to the motion, and as a consequence, he will receive a severance package, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Kelly had been CAO in Charlottetown since 2016.

In early May, the province’s Opposition Green Party tabled in the legislature an anonymous letter from Charlottetown city staffers who accused Kelly of allegedly authorizing city expenses without council approval, ignoring procurement rules, failing to follow human resources policies for hiring and reprimanding staff who brought forward concerns.

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These allegations have not been proven, and Kelly didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Read more: Former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly facing scrutiny for role at Charlottetown city hall

Stephen Howard, a member of the Green Party, says that Kelly’s termination does not end the party’s call for a review at Charlottetown City Hall.

“I don’t think the minister has heard the last of this issue from either myself or from the taxpayers,” Howard said in an interview Thursday, referring to Communities Minister Jamie Fox, who has the power to order a review of the city’s governance. Fox could not be reached for comment Thursday.

“There are still definite accountability questions for the minister and there are still definite questions about what has transpired at the City of Charlottetown to get us to this point,” Howard said.

Howard said a detailed review of Kelly’s work could have potentially saved taxpayer money.

“If a review had found any wrongdoings by this now-former CAO, the council would have had grounds to release him with cause and save the taxpayers that severance cost. So I think that’s a failure of the minister,” Howard said.

Council voted in an open session Wednesday night following a meeting behind closed doors. Three of 11 councillors voted against the motion: Mitchell Tweel, Jason Coady and Bob Doiron all opposed Kelly being terminated “without cause.”

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Read more: Charlottetown hires former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly as chief administrative officer

Doiron declined to comment, citing advice from the city’s legal counsel. His fellow councillors could not be reached for comment Thursday. The city declined to share details of Kelly’s job contract or severance package.

Kelly was at the centre of a 2012 concert scandal before leaving as Halifax mayor after 12 years in the role. He later faced scrutiny for his work as chief administrative officer of an Alberta municipality in 2017. He remains Halifax’s longest-serving mayor since the city’s amalgamation in 1995.

Charlottetown’s former CAO, Donna Waddell, has been appointed as interim CAO effective immediately, Mayor Phillip Brown said in a statement. The mayor could not be reached for an interview Thursday.

When asked if the city will be conducting an investigation into the allegations against Kelly, a spokesperson did not directly respond. The city said in an email that concerns are taken seriously and “there will be ongoing discussions with the mayor and council, along with the interim CAO.”

Waddell said in an email that the city is transitioning quickly to ensure continuity of services at city hall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2022.

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