Nova Scotia

Hurlburt resigns amid spending flap

Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt has resigned in the wake of a spending controversy involving several Nova Scotia politicians.

Yarmouth MLA Richard Hurlburt has resigned in the wake of a spending controversy involving several Nova Scotia politicians.

Hurlburt sent a letter to interim Progressive Conservative Leader Karen Casey on Tuesday.

"It is with deep regret and sorrow that I advise I am tendering my resignation as MLA for Yarmouth and as a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus effective Tuesday," he said in a statement.

Casey said she accepts his resignation but regrets losing him.

"Mr. Hurlburt has been an excellent minister and certainly a good MLA who served the constituents of Yarmouth well over the last 10 years," she said.

"He believes that it is in the best interests of the constituency of Yarmouth, as well as his family and the caucus and me as leader, that he step down."

The statement did not say why Hurlburt was stepping down. He is on vacation and was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

The Tory MLA was criticized after a report from Nova Scotia Auditor General Jacques Lapointe showed he had spent about $8,000 for a generator for his home.

Hurlburt initially defended his purchase and said he bought the generator two years ago to assist local organizations in the event of a power outage in his community. He said it had never been used for personal purposes.

The next day, amid a public backlash, Hurlburt apologized. He said he repaid the full amount of the generator and would donate it to a local community group.

Although the auditor general did not name individual politicians in his report, the Speaker's office released the full list of people responsible for the questionable expenses on Monday. That list showed Hurlburt also bought a 42-inch television worth $2,499 and paid $579 to have it installed at his constituency office.

He had not mentioned the television when he admitted to buying the generator.

Casey said Hurlburt was "truly sorry."

"Although the intent was honourable, the perception was questionable, and I think that would be what he considered to be an error in judgment on his part," she said.

Casey defends decision

The controversy had Casey defending her own credibility as interim party leader after she admitted she knew about Hurlburt's TV purchase but chose not to say anything when she stood next to him and informed the media about the generator.

"I interpreted and handled it the way that I thought was in the best interests of all of Nova Scotians and the caucus members," she said.

When asked whether she had lied by omission, Casey said, "I wouldn't interpret it that way."

She said she doesn't feel the need to resign because she believed individual members should come forward about their expenses.

"I have been asked by the caucus to be the leader," Casey, speaking via conference call from Truro, told reporters. "That was endorsed unanimously by the party, and I will continue to do what the party has asked me to do, and that's provide leadership in this province."

Chris d'Entremont, the Tory MLA for Argyle, said earlier on Tuesday that he and other caucus members were unaware of Hurlburt's TV purchase before the list was disclosed.

"Had it been me, there would've been a full disclosure on that," he said. "Ultimately, you know, people would expect certain things of us."

Hurlburt will be eligible for a transition allowance of approximately $21,000 and an annual pension of $41,815, according to the website for the Speaker's office.

With files from The Canadian Press