Mutiny in the county

In a bizarre turn, coup to re­move In­ver­ness war­den leaves Betty Ann MacQuar­rie still sit­ting in war­den’s chair

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

A coup in­tended to re­move Betty Ann MacQuar­rie from her role as war­den of In­ver­ness County was suc­cess­ful Thurs­day.

How­ever, at the end of the day, it was MacQuar­rie who found her­self re­tak­ing the war­den’s chair.

It’s likely safe to say the se­quence of events that oc­curred at the reg­u­lar monthly ses­sion of In­ver­ness County has never oc­curred be­fore at any other Nova Sco­tia mu­nic­i­pal­ity and wouldn’t have been out of place as a plot point in the sit­com “Parks and Recre­ation.”

Go­ing into the meet­ing, coun­cil­lors had served no­tice of mo­tion of their in­tent to hold votes on whether to re­move both MacQuar­rie and Deputy War­den Al­fred Poirier from their lead­er­ship roles. If the votes were suc­cess­ful, coun­cil­lors would then go on to choose a new war­den and deputy.

The vote came after months of sev­eral mem­bers of coun­cil ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion with MacQuar­rie’s

record as war­den, in­clud­ing her abil­ity to keep or­der at coun­cil meet­ings, as well as com­ments she had made to the me­dia on some top­ics.

When the time came to vote on MacQuar­rie’s fu­ture — the re­moval

mo­tion was put for­ward by John MacLennan and sec­onded by John Dowl­ing — the nec­es­sary twothirds of coun­cil­lors voted in favour of the mo­tion — Dowl­ing, MacLennan, Jim Mus­tard and Poirier.

“That’s two-thirds. I’m gone, for now,” MacQuar­rie said, im­me­di­ately after the vote.

Her com­ment was pre­scient. Nom­i­na­tions for a new war­den were then sought, with Mus­tard nom­i­nat­ing Poirier and Lau­rie Cran­ton nom­i­nat­ing MacQuar­rie.

After both were given an op­por­tu­nity to say how they in­tended to ap­proach the role of war­den, a se­cret bal­lot was then con­ducted, which re­sulted in a tie vote. Un­der the pro­to­col set out by the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act, the two names were then to be placed into a hat, or in this case, a bas­ket.

“The name drawn is Betty Ann MacQuar­rie,” CAO Keith Mac­Don­ald said, to ap­plause from those in the gallery.

MacQuar­rie put her head in her hands, be­fore Poirier rose to his feet to con­grat­u­late her.

Then came the mo­tion to re­move Poirier as deputy war­den, which Poirier moved him­self and which passed unan­i­mously. Then he was again nom­i­nated as deputy, as was Mus­tard and the sub­se­quent se­cret bal­lot also re­sulted in a stale­mate, and it was Poirier’s name then cho­sen from the bas­ket.

“We’re right back where we started,” MacQuar­rie said.

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, she said she be­lieved coun­cil was now ready to move on.

“I think we’re all ready to move for­ward as a team and put this all be­hind us and maybe look at the process to see, I don’t know, if any­body would want to go through that process,” MacQuar­rie said. “There were sev­eral re­views … it was dif­fi­cult to think that your coun­cil mem­bers weren’t be­hind you, but I think ev­ery­body is ral­ly­ing to be a team now.”

Poirier said he is now fully sup­port­ive of MacQuar­rie’s lead­er­ship.

“It’s like ev­ery­thing else — democ­racy wins and that’s what hap­pened and at the same time I had a few con­cerns … we shook hands and we’re go­ing to go ahead with it,” he said.

The next mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in Nova Sco­tia take place in 2020.


For the sec­ond time in two years, Betty Ann MacQuar­rie was sworn in as war­den of In­ver­ness County Thurs­day, shortly after two-thirds of coun­cil had voted to re­move her as war­den. After a sub­se­quent vote to select a new war­den re­sulted in a tie, MacQuar­rie’s name was picked from a bas­ket. County CAO Keith Mac­Don­ald ad­min­is­tered the oath of of­fice.


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