Controversy over Charlottetown CAO a human resource matter, says provincial minister

·2 min read
Communities Minister Jamie Fox says he does want to hear more about what is going on in the City of Charlottetown administration. (CBC - image credit)
Communities Minister Jamie Fox says he does want to hear more about what is going on in the City of Charlottetown administration. (CBC - image credit)

Charlottetown needs to be given time to deal with the public controversy over its chief administrative officer Peter Kelly, says Communities Minister Jamie Fox.

Fox said the Municipal Government Act gives him quite a lot of power to act, but he is not ready to do that yet.

"This is an HR matter, and that's between a contract of the employer and employee," Fox told CBC News.

"I think we have to give them some time, of course, to deal with their HR matters."

The controversy regarding Kelly dates back to 2019, when he fired deputy CAO Scott Messervey. Coun. Bob Doiron questioned the firing, and he believes that set off a series of events that led to him being sanctioned by council for breaching the city's code of conduct bylaw and its workplace harassment policy.

Recently, CBC News received a copy of a letter Messervey wrote at the time, outlining 18 areas of concern. In some cases he felt Kelly was exceeding his financial authority or not complying with the province's Municipal Government Act.

Speaking to CBC News Tuesday, Fox said his department was consulted on the sanctioning of Doiron, and prepared a report for the city with input from a lawyer outside of government. He said he could not provide any details of the report, because it is being reviewed by the provincial privacy commissioner, but he may be able to talk more about it after that review is done.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

That report was provided to the city, Fox said, but Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown has said he knows nothing about it. Fox said he would need to check with his department about how exactly that report was delivered.

The city is now working to move Kelly out of his position, sources have told CBC News, in a deal that could involve a six-figure severance package.

The issues raised in Messervey's letter have never been brought to the attention of the Communities Department, said Fox.

"We have heard a lot of allegations come forward and we take these very seriously," he said.

"We're actually going to reach out into the city and actually have a conversation on, you know, what's actually happening."

At this point, however, Fox emphasized there have been no complaints brought forward and no investigation started by the province on what's happening within the city.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting