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Group doesn't want mayor back for encore

Ad-hoc organization pushes for Mayor Kelly to resign

by Justin Ling

Halifax city hall
Halifax city hall

With the mayor mired in accusations of dirty dealings, one ad-hoc group of protesters has taken to Facebook to demand his resignation.

The unorganized, grass-roots movement of people under the banner of ‘PETER KELLY - RESIGN NOW’ popped up in the latter part of last week.

Members of the group include Waye Mason, former director of the Halifax Pop Explosion, Tim Bousquet, The Coast journalist who broke the story, and Mayor Kelly himself.

Russell Gragg, one of the early administrators of the group, says the membership of the group exploded within several days. He says that they don’t belong to any political party or organization, the majority just want the mayor out.

Gragg slammed what he calls contradictions in the mayor’s story.

The mayor’s first statement on the scandal was that he was unaware of the issue at all. Following that, he admitted to knowing of the loans that were transferred but not authorizing them. A day later, he stated that he ordered the loans be given to MacKay, but that he was unaware they were against policy.

“This would not be a tiny, obscure policy,” Gragg says. “You don’t give out grants to for-profit companies without approval of city council.”

Mayor Kelly, according to the auditor general for the city, misused his power as mayor in advancing money to Power Promotions Events Inc. The city lost out on more than $350,000 of that money when the company went under in October. The money was transferred through Trade Center Limited on the authority of then-acting chief administrative officer Wayne Anstey, who resigned last week because of the scandal. The city lost about $300,000. Details are not being released about earlier concerts that may have used the same grant system.

The concerts in question brought The Black Eyed Peas, KISS, Keith Urban and Paul McCartney to the Halifax Commons.

“We all knew in our gut that there was something fishy about the concerts in general,” Says Gragg. “This has been going on for years.

“It calls a lot of his term of mayor into question.”

Gragg says that there’s no question - Kelly should step down as mayor. As of right know, he admits, it’s unclear whether he will.

“If the public pressure continues, that would certainly affect his decision.”

He says that he hopes to organize letter writing campaigns and protests at city hall. “Next week it will be very interesting to see what happens at the grassroots level.”

While the group previously believed it would be impossible to force Kelly from office, AllNovaScotia.com reported Sunday that it may be possible. The site reported that both the province and city council has the ability to oust the mayor, though it may be a complicated and legally questionable process.

Gragg noted, with a sense of hyperbole, “If they can overthrow Mubarak [using Facebook and Twitter] it’s not inconceivable to think that we could force out a mayor.”

He has lived in several cities across the country, including Calgary under Mayor Al Duerr. He compared the Albertan to Kelly, saying their styles are largely managerial and focused on cutting ribbons and kissing babies.

“[Duerr] got credit for not letting the city burn down.” Gragg says.

Calgary recently elected Canada’s first Muslim mayor, dark-horse candidate Naheed Nenshi, on a wave of grassroots support led be social media.

Asked if Halifax is capable of the same sort of shake-up, Gragg responded,

“Yes, absolutely.”

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Tags: Halifax
568 words


I don't think that Masonor

I don't think that Masonor Basquet are actually memember of the group any more. They were added by other people don't left, I believe.

They're certainly still

They're certainly still members. Whether they added themselves or were added, I'm not sure.

Both Waye Mason and Tim

Both Waye Mason and Tim Bousquet were, at one point, administrators as well.

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