PORT HOOD, N.S. — The warden of Inverness County says members of council have been able to work productively together in the months since several councillors began an effort to remove her as warden.
“It’s been fine,” Betty Ann MacQuarrie said in an interview Wednesday. “I’ve chaired the July, August and September council meetings and everything went very well, we’ve developed new policy and we’ve been dealing with infrastructure issues and each of the councillors are bringing their issues to the table.”
Council’s committee meetings have also been running well, MacQuarrie said.
“There’s order maintained, there’s leadership that is required of the warden and it’s being done. I think everybody should be satisfied with how I’ve done, as far as being warden of the county of Inverness. I represent the council and I also represent the people of Inverness County.”
MacQuarrie said she doesn’t believe there has been any lingering tension since the June meeting.
Council held a special meeting in June at the behest of four members of council who had indicated they wished to remove MacQuarrie as warden. Residents packed the public gallery for the meeting and ultimately, no motion for MacQuarrie’s removal was ever introduced.
A review of her leadership as warden had already been planned to take place in November and is expected to be on the agenda of the Nov. 1 council meeting, MacQuarrie said Wednesday.
The four members of council who had signed the notice seeking MacQuarrie's removal were John Dowling, John MacLennan, Deputy Warden Alfred Poirier and Jim Mustard. Coun. Laurie Cranton did not sign the document.
Much of the acrimony among councillors seemed to stem from a decision that council made to step away from a planned expansion of the Margaree Airport. There were also subsequently some issues taken with some of MacQuarrie's comments made during a discussion about a funding request from the Allan J. MacEachen Airport located in Port Hastings, which is owned by the Town of Port Hawkesbury.
MacQuarrie’s ability to keep order at council meetings and follow accepted rules of order was also criticized by several councillors as were comments she made to the media on some topics.
Under the province’s Municipal Government Act, which supersedes council policy, the council of a county or district municipality may by a vote of two-thirds of the council members and on 20-days notice in writing to the clerk, the warden and the councillors, remove a warden from office as warden and proceed to elect a new warden.
Dowling said Wednesday that council has been working well together and he hasn’t held any “bad feelings” toward MacQuarrie. He did say he believes some of the concerns that some councillors raised haven’t been addressed.
“We still never had a sitdown or a discussion to clarify any of those concerns that we did bring up, which I kind of wish that we had,” Dowling said. “We kind of had hoped that Betty Ann would have come to us and said, ‘Obviously you have some concerns, let’s talk about them,’ and we’ve never had that question come up.”
MacQuarrie said she isn’t sure of all the details but said council will have an opportunity to review her leadership as warden at the November meeting.
If a motion to remove her was successful, another member of council would have to be elected warden, she added.
The practice in Inverness County is for the six elected municipal councillors to vote for a warden from within their ranks. MacQuarrie became the county’s first woman to serve as warden in November 2016.
Council policy is to review the warden after two years in the job.