CBRM mayor off to China

Ce­cil Clarke on 10-day port de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­di­tion

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Mayor Ce­cil Clarke is on a 10-day port de­vel­op­ment-re­lated ex­pe­di­tion to China.

The Cape Bre­ton Post has con­firmed that he left Thurs­day and is slated to re­turn Dec. 6. Al­bert Bar­busci — the Mon­treal-based chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Har­bor Port De­vel­op­ment Corp., the con­sul­tants granted the ex­clu­sive right to mar­ket the port of Sydney for de­vel­op­ment — is ac­com­pa­ny­ing Clarke.

In the days lead­ing up to Clarke leav­ing for his trip, the Cape Bre­ton Post at­tempted un­suc­cess­fully to sched­ule an in­ter­view with him.

“You should con­tact him for his travel, and yes, I’m go­ing,” Bar­busci said Thurs­day morn­ing in a brief con­ver­sa­tion when reached on his cell­phone.

Bar­busci said he couldn’t get into any more de­tail about the trip at this time, not­ing there is a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment in place.

“There’s noth­ing we can dis­close at this time,” he said.

Af­ter be­ing un­able to ar­range an in­ter­view with Clarke, the Post sent a num­ber of ques­tions by email to Christina Lamey, com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser with the mayor’s of­fice. They in­cluded ask­ing who is pay­ing for Clarke’s trip, whether any­one other than Bar­busci is tak­ing part in the voy­age and whether coun­cil was ever briefed on the out­come of Clarke’s last trip to China. The Post also asked where in China Clarke will be trav­el­ling.

Lamey re­sponded by email con­firm­ing that Clarke was en route to China on Thurs­day and that he was trav­el­ling on his own. She wrote that he will be in­volved in a se­ries of three meet­ings, in­clud­ing one in Chongqing or­ga­nized through the Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion. Chongqing is lo­cated in south­west China, and has a pop­u­la­tion of al­most 29 mil­lion, while its ur­ban area has a pop­u­la­tion of about seven mil­lion.

Two other meet­ings will in­volve Har­bor Port De­vel­op­ment Part­ners, Lamey wrote.

“The mayor will have more to say about those meet­ings later, ei­ther dur­ing the trip or im­me­di­ately upon his re­turn,” Lamey stated.

The costs of the mayor’s last trip to China were cov­ered by the Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion and it was not a CBRM ex­pense, Lamey noted. A port-re­lated meet­ing that had been planned as part of that trip had to be can­celled due to un­cer­tain­ties with abo­rig­i­nal con­sul­ta­tions on the har­bour and re­lated lands, which have since been re­solved.

“Coun­cil and the pub­lic in gen­eral were all well aware of th­ese is­sues as they were widely pub­li­cized at the time,” Lamey wrote.

Costs for this trip are cov­ered by Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Co-op­er­a­tion, the Port of Sydney and Har­bor Port De­vel­op­ment Part­ners as it in­volves meet­ings re­lated to each or­ga­ni­za­tion, Lamey said. She said that since he as­sumed the may­oralty, Clarke has posted his of­fice’s travel ex­penses on­line ev­ery fis­cal quar­ter.

Deputy mayor Ge­orge MacDonald said he was ad­vised that he would have to fill in for the mayor while he’s away in China.

“He left for China (Thurs­day) morn­ing, I can tell you that,” MacDonald said. “I don’t know the de­tails of the trip — as you know it’s al­ways a puz­zle, but we’re hop­ing that maybe we’re go­ing to close the last piece of the puz­zle … they’re meet­ing with some rep­re­sen­ta­tives in China in re­gard to some ship­ping lines, I guess.

“It’s a very im­por­tant trip. ... We’re hop­ing to get some real pos­i­tive re­sults from the trip.”

Dist. 6 Coun. Ray Paruch said coun­cil­lors were ad­vised in an email of the dates of Clarke’s ex­cur­sion to China and that it was port-re­lated, but re­ceived few other de­tails.

“It’s all tight-lipped and I want to know why he’s go­ing to China be­cause we haven’t got an up­date on the port from the last trip to China,” Paruch said.

“It’s never come to coun­cil and there’s never been a dis­clo­sure about what was it that they went look­ing for, what did they find or what did they not find and how much did it cost and who went.”


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