Peter Kelly fired without cause following Charlottetown city council vote

·2 min read
Peter Kelly became the centre of controversy after two of his former deputies claimed they were fired after coming forward with concerns about the city's administration and finances. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
Peter Kelly became the centre of controversy after two of his former deputies claimed they were fired after coming forward with concerns about the city's administration and finances. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

Charlottetown city council has passed a motion to terminate Peter Kelly as chief administrative officer effective immediately.

Council voted 8-3 in favour of the motion in an open session that followed a closed-door meeting on Wednesday.

Donna Waddell will be stepping in as interim CAO. Waddell retired from that position when Kelly took over in 2016, and had previously served as the city's director of corporate services.

Kelly is being terminated without cause. Councillors Jason Coady, Mitch Tweel and Bob Doiron voted against the motion.

Prominent Canadian employment lawyer Howard Levitt told CBC Tuesday that if the City of Charlottetown could build a case to fire Kelly with cause, he wouldn't be entitled to any severance pay.

Given he's being terminated without cause, Levitt said it's likely Kelly's entitled in his contract to 14 to 18 months severance pay due to his high-level position, older age, and number of years in the job.

City councillors met privately on Monday after their regular council meeting to talk over the terms of the chief administrative officer's departure behind closed doors, though they failed to come to an agreement after more than three hours of discussion.

Kelly became the centre of controversy after CBC News reported two of his former deputies claimed they were fired after they came forward with concerns about the city's administration and finances.

Last week, four city staffers sent an anonymous letter to council in which they claimed Kelly created a workplace "controlled by fear, favouritism and lies" and urged the city to launch an investigation into his conduct.

Kelly issued a response on Thursday, saying the letter raised "serious allegations and concerns" and that there needs to be a review of policies and procedures, but that the situation "continues to be made personal and has become untenable."

CBC requested interviews with the mayor and Kelly, as well as with councillors as they were leaving Wednesday's meeting, but all declined comment.

Mayor Philip Brown said the city is acting on the advice of its legal team, and not saying anything further at this time.

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