Inverness Co.’s warden will remain in the position following a special meeting of council, which was held to discuss her role as leader of the municipality Friday morning.
It was a packed house at council chambers in Port Hood; some gallery members brought signs supporting Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie, and protesting against the idea of her removal.
The agenda stated the meeting was held to discuss a “review of warden position.”
Prior to the meeting, Keith MacDonald, the county’s CAO, addressed those with signs, who were cautioned they not be presented during the meeting, and asked for reaction be kept quiet during the discussion.
Councillor John Dowling, who represents Port Hastings–Judique–West Bay, mentioned concerns about MacQuarrie’s leadership ability, her lack of attention to other councillors’ concerns, misrepresentation in the media, among other issues.
The Municipal Government Act in our province requires a two-thirds majority to support a removal; four councillors signed an affidavit in favour of an ousting of MacQuarrie, but Jim Mustard, Inverness–Glenville–Dunvegan’s councillor, who signed an affidavit with three other councillors, discussed moving forward together until a two-year review of the warden’s term in November.
There are six councillors in Inverness Co., including Laurie Cranton, representing Margaree-St. Joseph; he supported MacQuarrie in the role, saying this was the first time he’s been aware of major issues relating to her role.
After the meeting, MacQuarrie told The Hawk she’s committed to working together in the future.
“I realize that we do have to work as a team and if there are issues brought forward regarding my leadership, I’d like for them to address it right away,” she said. “I will make every effort to improve how I run a council meeting or how as I work as a leader of Inverness County.”
MacQuarrie said she was shocked when she got an email addressing her possible removal June 15, saying she was asked to resign, but wanted concerns to be raised in a public meeting.
She said it was a premature review because there was no just cause.
After the meeting, Dowling, who initiated the discussion with councillors and sent the email to MacQuarrie, said he’s willing to move forward despite a loss of two-thirds majority vote of councillors when Mustard withdrew his support for MacQuarrie’s removal.
“I have to accept the decision of the council; I pledged to work forward of course, and I will,” he said. “With Councillor Mustard and his decision, I don’t have an answer as to why he did change; that is his right of course, as any one of us could have changed our decision (Friday) morning when we came in.”
Dowling listed other concerns about the warden, including the airports in Port Hastings and Margaree, the West Mabou Beach, and allowing Joe O’Connor, the county’s former CAO, to sit with councillors rather than in the gallery, during a meeting since his Oct. 1 retirement; there was also discussion relating to MacQuarrie meeting with Rodney MacDonald, our province’s former premier, and Cabot golf officials.
He said he didn’t feel they were getting direction from the warden in leading the municipality, but said it will take time to “get through things” following the meeting.
MacQuarrie said they’ll further discuss concerns raised during Friday’s meeting.
Dowling said it’s unfortunate some people have tried to discuss issues relating to gender on an otherwise male-represented council, and that he has great respect for MacQuarrie as a person and councillor, but he wanted a change for the warden’s position.
Councillors discussed the need to work forward together moving forward and into MacQuarrie’s term review in November.
Councillor John MacLennan said the documentation relating to the removal would be destroyed, before a motion to adjourn with the current council structure remaining intact was moved and seconded, drawing a standing ovation from members of the gallery.