Nova Scotia

Liberal MLA says conviction for impaired driving won't cost taxpayers

Hugh MacKay says the year-long suspension of driver's licence will not cost taxpayers extra, nor will it get in the way of his constituency work.

Hugh MacKay to rely on constituency assistant, family, friends and transit to get him around

Liberal MLA Hugh MacKay says his conviction for drunk driving won't cost taxpayers extra and won't get in the way of duties. (CBC)

Hugh MacKay says the year-long suspension of his driver's licence will not cost taxpayers extra, nor will it get in the way of his constituency work.

MacKay, the Liberal MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's, was convicted last Friday of driving with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

"I'm fortunate that I have a number of family, friends and even constituents who have stepped up to offer me support and who will be getting me around the constituency on a regular basis, at no cost to the public purse," MacKay said Wednesday after a committee meeting at Province House.

"My commitment to being an active constituency MLA in regularly scheduled meetings around the constituency will continue and the suspension is not going to impact on my ability to serve my constituents to the best of my ability."

MacKay said he would also rely on public transit and community ride-sharing programs, one called BayRides and the other Chester Community Wheels.

MacKay volunteered with BayRides

He announced provincial funding for both organizations in August 2018.  BayRides received $127,776 and the Chester Transportation Society, which runs the community wheels program, received $68,772.

MacKay volunteered with BayRides according to his FaceBook page.

Both organizations offer rides to people who book in advance. BayRides charges a nominal fee while Chester Community Wheels accepts donations.

According to the Chester organization's web page, the role of the ride-sharing program is "to offer a ride to transportation disadvantaged residents for all purposes such as medical appointments/services, banking, grocery shopping, recreation, socialization, etc."

The not-for-profit organization that runs BayRides promotes itself as a door-to-door service that "offers affordable and accessible transportation for all residents of St. Margarets Bay."

'Deeply regretful'

MacKay said he has been a frequent user of the St. Margarets Bay service. 

"In fact, I even used BayRides to access from my house to the Halifax Transit MetroX bus [in Tantallon] in order to come into the city today, and I regularly do that," said MacKay.

"I'm deeply regretful of the circumstances and have certainly apologized to my constituents, my family and others, my colleagues and so forth, but I will continue to serve my constituents to the same level that I always have."

In court Friday, the Crown recounted a comment MacKay made to the police officer who arrested him and was taking him to the Tantallon RCMP detachment. MacKay asked the officer if his arrest was motivated by politics.

On Wednesday, MacKay put that remark in the past.

"That was a silly comment I made in the circumstances, not one that had any rationale behind it," he said.

Asked if this was the only time he had driven drunk, MacKay said: "I can't think of any circumstance where that's occurred."