We know the extent of his crime. And we now know what price Richard
Hurlburt will pay for defrauding taxpayers of more than $25,000. But we still
don't know why he did it.
Why would a serving cabinet minister, a man who by all accounts had it all,
risk his career and his reputation to steal a few thousands dollars from his MLA
Not once in the two and a half years since he resigned has Hurlburt offered
an explanation for his actions. Not when he pleaded guilty, not when he issued a
tearful apology to the court during his sentencing hearing, and no explanation
Friday after he learned he would not be going to jail, but instead will spend
the next 12 months on house arrest.
At least with Dave Wilson, the former MLA for Glace Bay who is now serving
a nine month jail term for similar crimes, there were underlying circumstances
that provided some answers as to why he stole from taxpayers. According to the
court-appointed doctors who examined Wilson, he has a "pathological gambling
addiction". Wilson gambled thousands of dollars every week at the Halifax
casino. He re-mortgaged his house several times to keep financially afloat. In
short, he cheated on his expenses to feed his gambling habit.
There is nothing even close to that with Richard Hurlburt - no evidence of
a gambling or alcohol addiction, no personal financial crisis.
Hurlburt owned a successful construction company. He had a cabinet
minister's salary. His wife was a senior federal government employee.
They own a beautiful home just outside Yarmouth, a vacation home in Florida,
and while he was an MLA they had another home in Halifax that he and his wife
(who worked in the city) lived in and was paid for by the MLA's living
Even now, after all that has happened the Hurlburt's appear to be in
excellent financial health.
In court, Crown lawyer Andrew Macdonald said the Hurlburt's combined
retirement income is more than $10,000 a month with very little debt. As
Macdonald put it "they would be the envy of 99.99% of Nova Scotians".
Ever since he was charged, Hurlburt has refused to answer reporters'
questions. Friday was no exception. After giving a brief statement pledging to
to make it up to his family and community, Hurlburt quickly walked away ignoring
reporters attempts to get some answers.
The closest we got to a comment was when a reporter asked Hurlburt for his
reaction to the sentence. Hurlbut said nothing but his wife said one word -
Relieved her husband will spend the next 12 months under house arrest in
their lakefront home instead of in a jail cell in the Southwest Nova