Halifax mayoral debate focuses on transparency
The six men who want to be the mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality are all promising to run a more open administration, but one refused to reveal his campaign donations before election day.
At a mayoral debate focused on city council secrecy Tuesday night, Fred Connors, Aaron Eisses, Steve Mackie, Tom Martin and Robert Wesley McCormack all said they would open their campaign books before online voting starts on Friday.
Only one mayoral candidate — Mike Savage — refused.
"I'm going to follow the rules that we all agreed to when we entered this race, which is that we would disclose our donors afterwards," he told the crowd.
Martin criticized Savage, saying his position contradicts a campaign promise to make city hall more transparent. He questioned why Savage was unwilling to do something the other candidates had all agreed to.
"If we're all going to carry this banner, this sign that says, 'I'm transparent. I'm for transparency, vote for me,' put your money where your mouth is," Martin said.
Transparency has been a dominant issue in the Halifax Regional Municipality in recent months as Mayor Peter Kelly and the current regional council were criticized for holding dozens of secret meetings.
Information was also withheld when members of the Occupy Nova Scotia movement were evicted from Victoria Park, when sponsorship money for the skating oval was being considered and during the concert cash scandal.
Tuesday's debate was hosted by the Right to Know Coalition, The Coast and the Metro Students Community Coalition.
"Contracting and that, that's all open. If our money is involved in a contract then we should know what the contract is," said Darce Fardy, a member of the Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia.
"We should, perhaps, even know what the competing contract said so that we know that the best applicant got the contract. All of that stuff should be open."
Fardy said the only thing that council should deal with behind closed doors is personnel issues.
"I'm all about transparency. I mean, I haven't raised a dime yet so," said Mackie.
Connors said he's keen to open his books.
"Sidney Crosby is a very good friend of mine so I am dying to let people know who has funded my campaign," he said, to laughter from the crowd.
The candidates also said they want more information placed online and the current website revamped so information is easier to find.