Halifax CAO under scrutiny for bizarre, violent text to finance director

Jacques Dubé is facing a job review amid scrutiny over a text message he sent to the municipality's chief financial officer, Amanda Whitewood, in which he used foul language and talked about murder. He later said it was a joke and apologized.

Warning: Some language in this story may be considered offensive

Jacques Dubé became Halifax's chief administrative officer in September. (Pam Berman/CBC)

Halifax's top bureaucrat is facing a job review amid scrutiny over a bizarre and lengthy text message he sent to the municipality's chief financial officer that included foul language and violent imagery about murdering someone who likes winter.

Jacques Dubé was hired last year as the municipality's chief administrative officer and started in the role in September.

He sent the text message, which uses the F-word multiple times, on Feb. 12 to CFO Amanda Whitewood, someone he works with on a daily basis. He later said it was a joke and apologized.

CBC has obtained a copy of the eight-paragraph message, which is a play on an article about winter that appeared in a satirical publication, The Beaverton. The text message was a reworked version that used the names of Dubé and Whitewood.

'Killing him'

Here is an excerpt:

After weeks of relentless cold, some wondered today whether local CAO Jacques Dubé still thought Winter was "The best season", and also whether it would be fun if someone wrapped their hands around his stupid goddamn throat and choked him until he stopped talking about how great it is during this clearly godforsaken time of the year.

"I'm glad that he likes how quiet it gets when there's new snow on the ground," said Halifax's CFO Amanda Whitewood. "Do you know what else would make me glad? Killing him. Literally killing this son of a bitch with my hands."

Whitewood says that Dubé gets this "smug fucking look on his face" whenever he talks about how the cold "doesn't really bother him all that much", and wonder aloud whether or not it would bother him that much to catch a baseball bat in his dumb idiot teeth."

The text message goes on for five more paragraphs.

Complaint filed

When Whitewood replied, "What the heck is this," Dubé said it was his "sense of humour," according to a copy of the text exchange obtained by CBC. The next day she texted back and said she found the message violent and disturbing. Dubé apologized.

Whitewood filed a complaint. Halifax regional council discussed a personnel issue behind closed doors on March 9. Dubé was then noticeably absent from City Hall for a couple of weeks. The CAO was back on the job by late March.

The story first surfaced in AllNovaScotia.com last week, but no one, including Mayor Mike Savage, will talk about it.

"I don't talk about personnel issues," said Savage, when asked if he still had confidence in the CAO.

Job review

The CAO is typically assessed a year after they take up the position. That job review process began Monday.

The executive committee, which is handling the review, met behind closed doors Monday for two hours to discuss the process. Afterwards, the mayor did not say whether anything in particular had spurred the update but said the review was already on the agenda. He said staff may play a role in the review.

"They could, that's one of the things we're talking about now," he said.

CBC sent Dubé a series of questions by email. He has not yet responded.

Whitewood has not yet responded to an interview request.


Here is the full text of what Dubé sent to Whitewood on Sunday, Feb. 12

Halifax Herald-  After weeks of relentless cold, some wondered today whether local CAO Jacques Dubé still thought Winter was "The best season", and also whether it would be fun if someone wrapped their hands around his stupid goddamn throat and choked him until he stopped talking about how great it is during this clearly godforsaken time of the year.

"I'm glad that he likes how quiet it gets when there's new snow on the ground," said Halifax's CFO Amanda Whitewood. "Do you know what else would make me glad? Killing him. Literally killing this son of a bitch with my hands."

Whitewood says that Dubé gets this "smug fucking look on his face" whenever he talks about how the cold "doesn't really bother him all that much", and wonder aloud whether or not it would bother him that much to catch a baseball bat in his dumb idiot teeth.

"I swear to god, if I hear the phrase "stark beauty" come out of his useless mouth one more fucking time, I will blind him by hitting him in the eyes with a length of chain," said CFO Whitewood.

Scientists say that the sound of grinding teeth could be heard over 100% of HRM's landmass when Dubé intimated that he found power outages "fun, because you get to explore what life was like before technology".

The sound of fists clenching and unclenching reached "potentially harmful decibel levels" when Dubé talked about how "cosy" he was in his new down-filled jacket.

"I love it when you can hear the cold wind just howling through the barren treetops," said Dubé with the kind of shit-eating grin that just seems to invite a set of knuckles. "I don't usually catch colds, either. Just lucky, I suppose."

This is not the first time that Whitewood has longed to club Dubé's "fucking lights out with a shovel". Just last month, Dubé professed his love of public transit, telling anybody who would listen that, "I love it when the bus is late, it gives me time to think."

When reached by phone for further comment, Whitewood said her previous comments speak for themselves.

😎

Reply from Whitewood:

What the heck is this?

Reply from Dubé:

My sense of humour

Reply from Whitewood on Monday, Feb. 13:

With respect, I found that attempt at humour very disturbing. The language and the violence. Upset me.

Reply from Dubé:

My apologies. Did not mean to offend.

Here is a link to the article from The Beaverton on which the text is based.