Premier Darrell Dexter calls recent comments made by former Nova Scotia MLA Russell MacKinnon "perplexing" after the ex-MLA pleaded guilty last Friday to breach of trust charges.
Dexter said MacKinnon's recent comments denying that he did anything illegal are hard to reconcile with his guilty pleas last week related to the so-called MLA expense scandal.
"I think most Nova Scotians would be perplexed to see someone come before the court, and to enter guilty pleas in one breath and then say something completely different a few hours later," said Dexter. "But that has more to do with the individual than with the system ... it's perplexing, I think, to most of us."
"I didn’t do anything wrong intentionally," he told CBC’s Information Morning on Thursday.
"I didn’t take five cents during my entire 15 years of public service."
Meanwhile, the leader of Nova Scotia's official opposition Stephen McNeil wants public servants who betray the public's trust to pay a bigger price than they are now.
He says beyond what a court imposes, he'd like to see people stripped of their pension benefits.
"I think anyone who is in a position of public trust — whether it is a politician or anyone who's in the public sector or who is receiving public money in a pension plan — should be treated differently," said McNeil. "You break that trust with the people of the province, the taxpayers of this province when it comes to money matters, there should be a repercussion on you from a financial point of view."
McNeil said he isn't sure how the province can actually enforce that kind of sanction but he said he'll have officials look into it if the Liberals form the next government in Nova Scotia.
Progressive Conservative Party Leader Jamie Baillie expressed similar sentiments, although he thinks convicted employees or politicians should only lose the portion of the pension that taxpayers kicked in.
MacKinnon to start new job Monday
MacKinnon starts his new job with a surveying firm on Monday.
Judge Felix Cacchione sentenced MacKinnon to an eight-month conditional sentence that includes four months of house arrest and four months with a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
MacKinnon said he spent five years as a land manager for a Fortune 500 Company and logged a lot of miles, but the travel wore him down, so he upgraded his technical surveying skills.
MacKinnon was one of four politicians charged in February 2011 following an investigation by Nova Scotia's auditor general into constituency allowance spending. He was the first to contest the charges — two of the three other politicians charged have been sentenced.
Former Liberal Dave Wilson was sentenced last April after admitting to defrauding the public purse of nearly $61,000. He was released from custody in August after serving four months of a nine-month sentence.
Richard Hurlburt, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, was sentenced last July to a year of house arrest after pleading guilty to charges of fraud and breach of trust.
Independent member Trevor Zinck — the only sitting member among those charged — is charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. He is to go to trial in June.