Nova Scotia Liberal riding association members resign, Hugh MacKay to make statement next week

As MLA Hugh MacKay prepares to make a public statement next week addressing allegations of drinking and driving, two members of his district riding association have resigned from their posts.

Katherine Williams and Ron Meagher both quit the Chester-St. Margaret’s Liberal Riding Association on Thursday in the aftermath of the provincial party’s handling of accusations that MacKay drove through his riding while impaired in November 2018.

Those allegations first reached the ears of Premier Stephen McNeil‘s chief of staff in May of 2019, but Laurie Graham decided they had no merit and never shared them with the premier himself.  Nine months later, MacKay was charged with drinking and driving in relation to an incident on the same date described in the initial allegations.

Neither Williams nor Meagher could be reached for comment on Friday, but Premier Stephen McNeil thanked them for their service.

“They’ve obviously made a decision based on what’s happened with the riding association and the riding association now will rebuild and move forward,” he told reporters in the legislature.

“We can sit here and look back a year… as I look at the circumstances surrounding what’s taken place, I would have made same decision that my chief of staff made because there was no evidence, we had no history of that, and other private and personal information that we’re not at liberty to talk about.”

Earlier this week, the Official Opposition tabled an email in the legislature containing explosive allegations against MacKay.

Dated May 6, 2019, it was addressed to former Chester-St Margaret’s Liberal Riding Association president Andre Veinotte, Nova Scotia Liberal caucus officer Patricia Culbert and Richard Hattin, a member of MacKay’s campaign team in 2017.

“As President of the Chester-St. Margaret’s Liberal Riding Association, please accept this email as my official notice of resignation from the Board of Directors,” wrote the email’s author, whose name is redacted.

“I have been struggling for the past while hiding an incident that I can no longer keep hidden regarding the conduct of certain members of the Board along with our MLA — Hugh MacKay.”

The email describes in detail efforts to stop MacKay from driving drunk through his riding, before he eventually crashed into a lamp post on Nov. 22, 2018. That’s the same date cited in a charge of impaired driving laid against him by police earlier this month.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and MacKay has resigned as a member of the Liberal caucus. While declining an interview, in an email to Global News on Friday, MacKay wrote:

“I will be making a public statement next week which will provide clarity on this alleged incident.”

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