Nova Scotia

Tea party fuels rift in CBRM

A tempest in a teapot is brewing in the Cape Breton region, and it threatens to disrupt business at the Civic Centre.

A tempest in a teapot is brewing in the Cape Breton region, and it threatens to disrupt business at the Civic Centre.

Last week, Coun. Vince Hall invited many of his colleagues to chat privately about municipal issues before those same topics were scheduled to come up before council.

He called his get-togethers a "cup of tea," a phrase he started using last year when he wanted to talk informally about ongoing problems with council.

But Hall didn't e-mail his invitation to the mayor or four other councillors.

Coun. Jim MacLeod, one of the people left off the list, says the rift at council has existed for a long time and is only getting worse.

"It is pathetic, it has not stopped," he said.

"If these councillors are listening to people on the street, they better change their ways. I can't even go to hockey game without 40 to 50 people hollering, 'Jim, I'm glad you don't go for tea.'"

The mayor has refused to attend one of Hall's private meetings, saying they go against the rules that govern council.

The provincial minister responsible for municipal affairs, Richard Hurlburt, has now been asked to look into the legality of the meetings.

Hall welcomes any investigation and says he's confident his tea parties don't contravene the Municipal Government Act.

But whatever the minister decides, MacLeod says, the rancorous situation at council will only really be resolved in two years when the next municipal election is scheduled.

now