MacLean hon­oured by ap­point­ment to prov­ince’s ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS/WEATHER - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­

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

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