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Cape Breton councillor uses foul language to describe MLAs amid policing debate

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Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) councillor Steve Gillespie expressed his frustration over highway policing in the area, referring to Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative MLAs as “assholes."

The issue at hand concerns who should police Highway 125 near Sydney: the RCMP, which has done so for years, or Cape Breton Regional Police.

“I have tried very hard to have a relationship with the MLAs in my district,” Gillespie said. “Today ends that relationship.”

MLA John White responded to Gillespie’s comments on Tuesday while also accusing CBRM Mayor Amanda McDougall-Merrill of divisive-style politics in the province.

“It’s not very becoming of an elected official, is it?” White said. “I’ve been known to use that kind of language myself, but I’ll refrain from it today.

“I’ll leave it at this: I’m looking forward to a municipal election so we can mend that relationship.”

According to Justice Minister Barbara Adams, the problem began when the Cape Breton Regional Police cancelled a memorandum of understanding with the RCMP to police the highway 14 months ago.

“They’re the ones who need to work with Cape Breton Regional Municipality to ensure that police is continued,” Adams said.

McDougall-Merrill said she couldn’t justify Gillespie’s comments, but she considered them indicative of someone at their wits’ end over an important public safety issue.

“This downloading of previously RCMP-policed highways onto the municipality goes against all legislation that the province has, you know, passed,” she said.

The agreement with the RCMP officially expires on Aug. 31.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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