Nova Scotia

Kirby McVicar resigns amid Andrew Younger privacy controversy

Premier Stephen McNeil's chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, has resigned amid allegations he broke privacy laws by making public medical information of former Liberal cabinet minister Andrew Younger.

Opposition leaders say McVicar acted in a 'reprehensible' and 'despicable' manner

In interviews with reporters on Monday, the premier's chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, said Andrew Younger told him he had post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain tumour. (CBC)

Premier Stephen McNeil's chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, has resigned amid allegations he broke privacy laws by making public medical information of former Liberal cabinet minister Andrew Younger.

The premier's office said Tuesday afternoon the resignation is effective immediately.

McNeil told reporters McVicar tendered his resignation during a phone call earlier in the day while the premier was in Ottawa attending the first ministers' meeting. He said McVicar acted alone when he released the information about Younger.

"I asked Kirby that today and he said it was a decision he made and made on his own," McNeil said.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said his former chief of staff, Kirby McVicar, tendered his resignation during a phone call on Tuesday while the premier was in Ottawa attending the first ministers' meeting. (CBC)

The premier said no decision has been made on McVicar's interim replacement. He said the province would honour McVicar's contract with regards to any severance.

The downfall of the premier's right-hand man comes a day after McVicar​ tried to quell the controversy surrounding a secretly recorded conversation with Younger.

McVicar revealed to reporters on Monday that Younger had told him he had post-traumatic stress syndrome and a brain tumour. McVicar used those ailments as justification for suggesting he could help get Younger's wife, Katia Younger, a government job. The offer was caught on tape.

Confidentiality expected

McNeil said he took issue with that information being released.

"When anyone provides information to this office or my constituency office, they expect that information to be contained in that office and be protected," he said.

The province's opposition parties said Tuesday that McVicar acted in a "reprehensible" and "despicable" manner in revealing such medical information. Younger said he would file a privacy complaint against McVicar.

The job offer was part of the discussion during a 12-minute conversation between the two men that Younger secretly recorded. Younger recorded the conversation on his phone when the two met at Younger's constituency office in February.

The full recording was made public Monday, and McVicar defended the job offer as simply an attempt to take pressure off an MLA who was under tremendous stress.

The information about Younger would have been passed on to the premier's office while Younger was in cabinet and would have been considered confidential in the same way employee records are.

'Unethical' and 'despicable'

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie says McVicar should never have divulged it.

"What Mr. McVicar did yesterday was unethical. It was despicable. And it may well have been illegal and he should lose his job over it," Baillie said before McVicar's resignation announcement.

Interim New Democratic Party Leader Maureen MacDonald was just as blunt in her assessment.

"There's only one word I can use. It's reprehensible that this has occurred," she said.

"The premier has to act to remove this person whose judgment is clearly not the judgment you would want in the premier's office at the highest level."

She says such an act will do nothing to break the stigma associated with mental illness.

Younger, meanwhile, told reporters on Tuesday he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but it's "not accurate" that he has a brain tumour.


Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?