Ferguson doing 'good job': Percy Paris
The provincial government is standing behind a bureaucrat who was singled out in an audit critical of the way public money was funnelled to a concert promoter.
Scott Ferguson, CEO of Trade Centre Limited, has admitted he should have asked more questions before issuing advance cheques to Harold MacKay, the promoter behind the concerts on the Halifax Common.
Taxpayers are out almost $360,000 as a result of these secret deals because the promoter of the concerts could not repay all of $400,000 advanced by the city.
Halifax's Auditor General Larry Munroe said Mayor Peter Kelly and Wayne Anstey, the city's former chief administrative officer, didn't flag concerns about continued financial support for the concerts.
Anstey stepped down in March over the scandal because he authorized the advance.
MLA Percy Paris is Ferguson's boss — Trade Centre Limited is a provincial crown corporation.
"Scott Ferguson as far as the province is concerned is doing a good job," Paris said Thursday. "He's implementing the recommendations from the auditor general and he will continue to be a good public servant."
On Tuesday, Munroe said several senior officials ignored warning signs because they had an "overwhelming desire" to bring concerts to the Halifax Common to compete with Moncton, N.B., in hosting outdoor concerts.
Paris said his confidence in Ferguson has not been shaken by the auditor's findings.
The auditor called Ferguson an "active participant" in the cash for concerts scandal since he personally signed a number of the cheques in question.
The auditor said council should pre-approve any Halifax Metro Centre accounts or funds if they are used for anything other than the operation of the centre itself.