Peter Kelly’s final mayoralty meltdown announcement last week was not triggered by any of the many mis-governance issues that should have long since ended his political career. Ironically, the mayor was ultimately hoist on the petard of his own sloppy-and-perhaps-worse handling of the estate of a friend, a private matter unrelated to his duties as mayor.
It is tempting at moments like these—this “after-27-years-of-public-service-I-have-made-my-contribution-to-the-good-of-the-community-to-the-very-best-of-my-ability-and-it-is-time-to-seek-new-horizons” moment—to seek to be kind too, to acknowledge the toll public service takes on a politician’s personal life.
It does. But how many times in his own eye-darting, stand-up, self-serving, stick-to-the-talking-points farewell interviews did the mayor do it for us: endlessly lamenting the marriage lost, the 90-hour weeks, the nights sleeping on the office floor?
It is tempting too to glorify any soon-to-be-gone politician’s accomplishments.
There were a few: Kelly’s genuine public apology for the wrongs of Africville, for example, is praiseworthy, as was his success in piloting the harbour solutions sewage treatment project to completion, HRM By Design, the Canada Games, the skating oval, the…
But, after 12 years—for a man who will leave office this fall as Halifax’s longest serving mayor ever—that list is woefully short.
The other side of his ledger is much longer and more damning: the botched Commonwealth Games bid, the concert-gate scandal, the lack of a business case for a new convention centre, the mindless, my-city-is-better-than-Moncton push for a new stadium, the violations of HRM By Design, the St. Pat’s school sale fiasco, the endless cat bylaw debates, the dysfunctional council meetings, the secrecy about everything, the refusal to take responsibility for anything…
Perhaps Peter Kelly’s greatest contribution to the future of our city will ultimately have been his decision not to re-offer.
We no longer have to have a referendum on his record.
We can begin to have the conversation about our future.