Nova Scotia

Mayor asks police to probe bribery allegations

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has asked the police to investigate three allegations of bribery involving municipal councillors.

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly has asked the police to investigate three allegations of bribery involving municipal councillors.

"It is not the way we do things around here," Kelly said Wednesday.

"If at any time it is out there, then the police need to step in and the courts and make sure there are full repercussions if these accusations are true."

Kelly first contacted police on Tuesday after Coun. Dawn Sloane told a local newspaper that a developer offered her a wad of bills in return for her vote on a project in 2001.

Sloane said she threatened to call the police when the unnamed developer showed her the cash. But she did not report the incident.

Now two other Halifax regional councillors have come forward to say they were approached with bribes several years ago when they were rookie councillors.

Len Goucher says he was offered about $43,000 in 1989, when he was on Bedford city council. Jim Smith says a developer contacted him in 2000 with what he believes was a bribe.

The mayor has asked the chief and deputy chief of the Halifax Regional Police service to widen the scope of their investigation to include the allegations from the two councillors.

Kelly says police are also contacting other members of regional council.

The Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association, which represents the construction industry in the province, is upset by the allegations about unidentified developers.

In a release, the group says the allegations tar everyone in the field with the same brush and should be deemed "completely inappropriate."

A spokesperson for the group wonders why the alleged bribery incidents were not reported right away and questions the training given to new councillors.

Kelly agrees that is something that will now have to be considered.

"Usually if there's illegal activity it comes from within and you refer to the police for a full review. If we have not made it clear, then in the future we have to make it clear that these are things you have to report very quickly," Kelly said.

In Canada it's illegal to offer a loan, reward or benefit to a municipal politician in exchange for a vote. Anyone convicted faces a maximum jail term of five years.

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