MacLean honoured by appointment to province’s executive council
PORT HAWKESBURY — Known from one end of the province to the other as simply Billy Joe, the town’s longtime mayor says he doesn’t expect people to start addressing him as ‘ honourable,’ even though he is now an honorary member of Nova Scotia’s executive council.
But Billy Joe MacLean now has the right to use that title, after being notified of the appointment this week. He was named to the executive council by Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis on the recommendation of Premier Darrell Dexter.
“I read it, I was trying to comprehend it,” MacLean said Friday. “I’m still Billy Joe MacLean and I always will be, so I’m not suggesting somebody would walk up to me calling me the Honourable Billy Joe. But to have the distinction, I think, is an honour.”
MacLean was a member of the executive council when he served as the MLA for Inverness South and was a member of John Buchanan’s Progressive Conservative cabinet in the 1980s. But in 1986 he pleaded guilty to uttering forged documents related to $22,000 in submitted expense claims. MacLean was fined $6,000 and was expelled from the legislature. He won his seat back when he ran in the subsequent byelection as an independent but lost in a general election the following year.
“ That’s the final jury, isn’t it, to face your electorate?” MacLean said of his election as an independent. “I suppose there were people thinking, ‘Billy Joe’s not doing too well,’ to do such a thing, and much to our shock and disbelief — mine too — the people supported me. I don’t think there was any greater honour than that one.”
MacLean’s appointment to executive council also comes at a time when MLA expense claims are a hot topic of discussion in the province, in the wake of last week’s auditor general’s report.
“I have no bitterness, to inflict any embarrassment on any member of the elected government that exists today by trying to compare the past to the present,” he said. “I think it would be unfair to them and unfair to the years past. I do hope that they can resolve the problems that are there and go on giving good government.”
He added he’s not interested in criticizing other elected officials.
“My job is to be mayor of Port Hawkesbury and I hope they respect me in the job that I’m doing.”
Billy Joe MacLean